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Compact History 

of the 
Red Cross 


Illustrations fey GIL WALKER 







The American Red Cross is a tangible expression of our concern 
for one another in time of need. It exists to prevent or lighten suffer- 
ings from war, natural disaster and disease. In its modem organization 
the Red Cross is both a potent means for helping the distressed and 
an expression of the great moral force of man’s highest impulses. 

Almost every country has a Red Cross society, individually devel- 
oped to meet that country’s needs, but cooperating for humane pur- 
poses under international agreements with all others. The American 
Red Cross, through which we serve, is one of the largest. 

As developed over an active life of more than 75 years, the Ameri- 
can Red Cross today embraces more than 3,700 local chapters. It has 
more than 40,000,000 adult and junior contributing members. 
Approximately 2,000,000 volunteer workers support its services, 
coordinated and directed by a professional staff that serves both in 
the United States and throughout the world wherever American armed 
forces are located. 

The history of the Red Cross in America is essentially the story of 
volunteers, to whom this work is dedicated. 

Much of the volunteer and professional work is spectacular, as in 
the cases of war or major disaster. Much of it is done behind the 
scenes — quietly, faithfully, efficiently and sometimes at great sacri- 
fice — ^the commonplace and ordinary jobs. 

As an organization, the American Red Cross is unique. Its basic 
authority is a Congressional charter by which the government charges 
the organization with specific responsibilities. These are: to provide 




services and assistance to members of the armed forces, to conduct 
a disaster preparedness and relief program, and to provide other gov- 
ernment-requested assistance in carrying out the terms of the Geneva 
Conventions. No other organization in the United States has such a 
charter. The charter is law — the Red Cross must provide the services 
described in it. 

Thus the American Red Cross is an organization whose respon- 
sibility is set by our government, but whose funds and workers all are 
drawn from our private resources. 

As a national organization, the Red Cross has the trained ma- 
chinery and personnel to act as the “good neighbor” wherever disaster 
beyond the scope of local resburces may strike. As an organization of 
local chapters, it is rooted in the local community “next door” to 

The people of the United States have good reason to be proud of 
the American Red Cross. It is our own creation and structure. In its 
heart and being it is ourselves. 



Preface 7 

1. Birth of the Idea 13 

2. One Womar and Her Mission 21 

3. Prelude to Acceptance 35 

4. First Steps 45 

5. On the Job — When Disaster Strikes 61 

6. Publicity, Propaganda and Politics 75 

7. First Test by War 87 

8. By Authority of Congressional Charter 103 

9. Groping and Reshaping 115 

10. Progress and Programs 125 

1 1 . War and Its Challenges 139 

12. Chapters Come In^o Their Own 149 

13. Europe, 1917-18 163 

1 4. Aftermath of Glory 1 75 

15. The Settling Period 187 

1 6. The Challenge of the Depression — 

Public Agency or Political Stooge? 203 

17. The Distant Roll of Drums 215 

18. 1941-45— The Deluge 229 

19. Realism and Reconversion 251 

20. Roll Call at 75 263 

In A p predation 281 

Appendices, A, B, C 285 

Index 293 

The Author and His Book 309 


Compact History 

of the 
Red Gross 

+ + + + + 

Birth of the Idea 


1 1 ow DID the Red Cross start? One might as well ask how any of 
the great moral movemejits in the history of mankind started. 

It is sometimes possible to pinpoint events, but none of these started 
anything. Occasionally individuals have framed concrete ideas out of 
aspirations, questions, and conclusions that were agitating the minds 
of many thinkers in their ages. They have given form to ideas, words 
to thoughts and, most important, activity to ideals. 

With those qualific -dons, one ventures to place in perspective the 
most widely accepted humanitarian movement of the last hundred 
years, and to say, “This is how it began.” Rather, from the standpoint 
of the American reader — particularly the millions of Red Cross volun- 
teers — “Here are its two beginnings.” Because there were two of them. 

First there was the beginning in Europe, coming in 1862 out of the 
torment of emotions that had wracked a single sensitive man for three 
introspective years. Second, more than a score of years later, there was 
the American beginning, through the emotional and yet practical 
maneuvering of a diminutive, dedicated woman already internationally 
famous for her battlefield w’ork in the Civil War. 

The story, therefore, begins with these two figures — Jean Henri 
Dunant in Europe and Clara Barton in the United States. That is, they 
are focal points in the narrative. Perhaps it all actually began when the 
first manlike creatures long ago carried a hurt compatriot into a shel- 




tering cave and there washed his wounds, brought him food, and helped 
his family to survive. 


Europe in the mid-nineteenth century was in many respects actually 
similar to the storybook conception that pervades our imagination of 
it. Here was a continent in which — all at the same time — imperialistic 
wars could be waged, civilians could proceed with their business as 
usual, and a man on holiday could walk out casually and see the after- 
math of a massive battle fought the previous day. This is what 

Dunant, a Swiss, in his thirties already a prosperous, widely traveled 
banker, had gone to Italy for a combined business and pleasure tour 
of the Lombardy plains. On a spring night he slept at Castiglione della 
Pieve, but fitfully because of the sound of artillery fire. The noise came 
from the vicinity of the village of Solfcrino, then as now a hamlet of 
less than 1,000 population but destined to be one of history’s notable 

On the following day he and others in the neighborhood went out to 
see the remains of a battle fought there between an Austrian army on 
one side and a coalition of French and Sardinians on the other. What 
they saw was a carnage shocking in any era. 

Over the battlefield lay between 30,000 and 40,000 men, many dead 
but mostly wounded. The exact number of casualties has never been 
determined. The opposing armies had fought each other to a draw and 
each side had withdrawn to regroup its living and its supplies. Left 
behind, after the custom of the times, were the grievously hurt, inter- 
mingled across the plains with the dead. 

So accustomed was the human mind of the time and place to the 
battles that had marked two thousand years of this region’s history 
that the wounded were left to die. It was less a hardness of heart per- 
haps than a feeling of resignation, because what could be done? Lead- 
ership was needed where it did not exist. 

On this day Dunant felt the urge to leadership, perhaps as a reflex 
of his organized and organizing mind. Before nightfall he had mustered 
as many doctors and helpers as possible from the surrounding villages 
and led them to a crude form of medical relief work on the battlefield. 



Had such a thing been done before? Probably thousands of times, 
but this action by Dunant was so decisive a factor in his own experi- 
ence that soon the course of the historic regard of nations toward the 
plight of the wounded in war turned. This change took only three years, 
because modern man was ready at last to take another step toward 
civilization of the mind. 

In 1862, the outraged man — a brooding figure with his beard and 
classic nose and deep-set ,eyes — wrote a small book entitled I 'n Souve- 
nir de Solferino. At his own expense he sent it to leading members of 
all the governments of Europe, and particularly to the French, German 
and Austrian emperors, the chief architects of Europe’s wars. 

The book met its time, because alre*ady Napoleon III had begun 
negotiations with his traditional enemies aimed at preventing another 
holocaust such as Solferino. There was creeping into the consciousness 
of the heads of states some small feeling of guilt and i evulsion at what 
their imperial plans cost in human lives. 

In an age noted for pamphleteering Duna'nt’s appeal might have 
been applauded for its humane intent, and thereafter dropped, with 
some compliments for his call to action to “press forward in a human 
and truly civilized spirit the attempt to prevent or at least to alleviate, 
the horrors of war.” 

Writing the book was all that Dunant could do. He was not a po- 
litical figure, a member of a distinguished social group or a member 
of a professional socie* '. 

There was in Geneva, however, a distinguished group of scholars 
who called themselves the Soe'ety for Public Benefit. These took up 
Dunant’s cause. They formed a special committee, which Dunant was 
invited to join, even though he was not then or later a member of the 
society. He was asked to sit down with Gustave Moynier, president of 
the society and chairman of the committee, alongside General Guil- 
laume Dufour and the celebrated medical authorities, Drs. Louis Appia 
and Theodore Maunoir. 

These were the hardheaded men of affairs and prestige needed to 
create the machinery suggested by Dunant. They worked hard and fast. 
Calling themselves the Committee of Five the group began, as Dr. 
Maunoir wrote, “to set up an agitation.” Dunant was assigned to visit 
the capitals of Europe, to repeat personally the things he had described 
in his book and to inflame people’s imaginations. His fellow committee 



members sent out invitations to a conference to be held in Geneva. 

The first Geneva conference met in September of 1863, with delega* 
tions from sixteen nations including representatives of officialdom, 
learned societies and welfare organizations. Out of the conference grew 
two basic tenets: (1) the need for formation of volunteer civilian or- 
ganizations to render aid to the wounded in wartime; and (2) procla- 
mation of neutrality in wartime for the wounded, for the volunteers 
going to their assistance, and for the materiails and equipment used in 
this work. 

The conference further recommended that the Committee of Five 
should be renamed the International Committee of the Red Cross, as 
the recognized link between 'the national Red Cross Societies to be 
formed in the future. 

The name was derived from a prior recommendation that the flag 
of the projected organization should be a reverse of the Swiss flag, 
which consists of a white cross on a red background. 

A diplomatic conference to translate resolutions into treaties was 
called for the following year, also to meet at Geneva. 


There could hardly have been a worse year than 1864 in which to in- 
vite the Government of the United States to participate in a conference 
dealing with the abstractions of such a subject as formation of an 
organization to humanize war. 

First, a war was raging in the United States which made any Euro- 
pean conflict since the time of Emperor Napoleon I seem puny. 

Second, the abstractions about which the European powers were 
talking dealt with matters already put into practical operation to a 
surprisingly advanced degree in the midst of the Civil War in the 
United States. The wounded, and those sent to assist them, were re- 
ceiving much of the consideration which was still a talking point in 

Third, the Government of the United States still was of a mood want- 
ing no part of any commitments to Europe, particularly in the light of 
activities by some of the principal countries there which gave tacit if 
not overt aid to the secessionist movement. 

Out of courtesy, the Lincoln Administration designated the Ameri- 



can Minister to Switzerland as official observer at the conference in 
1864; he could watch and perhaps confer, but not by any means 
commit. The Government also authorized a second observer to attend 
under the same conditions: Charles S. Bowles, European representative 
of the American Sanitary Commission. 

Why Dr. Bowles? 

In the Civil War the Union had already recognized the extreme need 
for civilian services to back up the small Medical Department of the 
Army. Thus the Sanitary Commission had been formed. Its member- 
ship included thousands of women who gathered bandages, supplies 
and comforts for the battle- wounded, for distribution through official 

i'he Sanitary Commission supplied countless volunteer nurses for 
military hospitals and in many other ways operated much as the Red 
Cross was to do in later wars. This commission was not established to 
work on the battlefields, as did the lone wolverine Clara Barton, who 
in 1864 was taking her trains of mule-drawn wagons wherever the 
fighting raged in Virginia. However, after the Battle of Gettysburg, it 
did send some agents to the front. 

Dr. Bowles cooperated with the International Committee, largely 
by passing along reports on what the Sanitary Commission was doing. 
In one speech he said that the commission “has long since met with and 
overcome the difficulties which some delegates are now predicting and 
recoiling before.” At one point, he appeared to feel that his Govern- 
ment would automatically vote adherence to the proposed agreement. 

The Treaty of Geneva officially establishing the Red Cross as the 
Geneva Convention was signed by representatives of twelve countries 
on August 22, 1864. The original signatories w’cre Baden, Belgium, 
Denmark, France, Hesse, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, 
Spain, Switzerland and Wiirttemberg. Dr. Bowles carried back to 
Washington in person a report of what had been done. 

Within two years, the Geneva Convention was to be ratified also by 
Great Britain, Greece, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Norway, Russia, 
Sweden and Turkey . . . but not by the United States. 

In Washington, the Geneva Convention simply bumped into a com- 
bination of circumstances too great to be overcome. Secretary of State 
William H. Seward was adamant in his stand against any treaty bind- 
ing the United States to act in concert with foreign governments, par- 



ticularly in a period when the activities of the leading powers reflected 
a shift in political standards to every transient whim of self-interest. 

Restudy of the Red Cross question immediately after the Civil War 
resulted in another negative response, this time by Secretary Seward 
with the concurrence of the Department of War. 

A further try was made in 1866, when what was hoped would be- 
come a branch of the Red Cross movement was established in Wash- 
ington, under the presidency of the noted Dr. Henry W. Bellows, with 
the formidable title of the American Association for Relief of the 
Misery of the Battlefields. And still another attempt was made in 
1869, after Hamilton Fish had become Secretary of State under Presi- 
dent Grant. 

In 1872, Dr. Bellows’ organization folded up. 

But the failure of the organized effort served in a manner not 
realized at that time to clear the way for the individual who later was 
to bring it into tangible being. This was Clara Barton — at that moment 
the most unlikely of all such chosen leaders — who, broken in health 
and spirits, had sailed in 1869 to Europe on a self-imposed exile that 
was to last for four long years. 


+ + + + + 

One Woman 
anil Her Mission 

In 1894, AN ARTICLE in the Review of Reviews, outstanding among 
serious publications of its time, stated: 

The country has Miss Clara Barton, industrious, indefatigable, 
persistent and enthusiastic. For 13 years since the United States 
signed the Geneva Convention the National Red Cross Associa- 
tion in this country has been Miss Clara Barton and Miss Clara 
Barton has been the National Red Cross Society. 

This comment was written v hen Clara Barton was seventy-three 
years old and presumably in the twilight ^>f a fantastic career that had 
made her so well known in so many fields that no specific identification 
of her appeared any longer in articles about her. It was the twenty- 
fifth anniversary of her first contact with the Red Cross. 

Most elderly men and womer of prominence of that age have de- 
veloped from early promise based on brains or beauty, or both. At 
least they have shown an early drive or ambition. And very few of 
them have remaining, at that age, the energy to continue at the same 
pace for almost a score more years. 

What was it that made her what she was? 

Clara Barton was a late starter and late finishei, never a sprinter. 
Everything for which she is noted occurred in a lifetime that found her 




no more nor less than a politically appointed copy clerk in the Patent 
Office in Washington, D.C., in the fortieth year of her life. Not only 
was she in the most anonymous of mediocre jobs but her health was 
poor and her spirit was broken; and her homeliness and seeming lack 
of personality would have been insuperable handicaps to most other 

What type of person was this who, aroused by humane passions in 
the Civil War, would outstrip and outlive. the whole bevy of highly 
educated, forceful, brilliant, and energetic women leaders who were 
her contemporaries? 

Clara Barton was born December 25, 1821, at North Oxford, 


Massachusetts, the fifth and last child of Captain and Mrs. Stephen 
Barton. She was christened Clarissa Harlowe Barton, but the formal 
names quickly died away from all records except those of the parish 
clerk. Captain Barton could hardly be classed as a leading figure in his 
society; he was a normally pro.sperous New England farmer, able to 
give his children rudimentary educations before sending them out to 
work, two at an early age in the local spinning mill. Some accounts 
credit the Barton family with part ownership of some mills. The Cap- 
tain apparently found his greatest recompense in life in being an “old 
soldier.” And by that fact he plaiited a seed that perhaps accounted as 
much as any other factor for Clara’s late but dramatic development. 

Clara was Captain Barton’s pet, the last and the runt among his 
litter of five children. And, perhaps because all the rest of his family 
and friends had become bored to death with his old-soldier tales, she 
became his favorite audience. Between attending classes at school 
(which she started at four), riding horseback and doing her share of 
chores at home, Clara listened with spongelike memory to her father’s 
yarns, which always culminated in the Battle of the Thames where he 
fought with “Mad Anthony” Wayne and where Chief Tecumseh was 

Echoes of the tales came many years later when Clara Barton lived 
the life of military camp, military headquarters and eventually foreign 
royal courts. She once boasted, “I never addressed a colonel as captain, 
got my cavalry on foot or mounted my infantry.” Her friends noted 
with amused and affectionate indulgence another throwback to the old 



militia captain — Clara Barton loved to wear the jeweled and enameled 
medals and orders th; in later times were showered on her. 

Even the horseba^ <c riding remained an active asset. Ishbel Ross 
wrote of her in Ang of the Battlefield, “More than once fin the Civil 
War] she saved her skin on the battlefield by a last-minute dash on 
horseback when she had stayed to tend the wounded until the Confed- 
erates were close at hand.” 

Clara’s girlhood was thoroughly typical of the New England of her 
day; school and household chores and all the questions about the 
future faced by a thin and not very strong girl, but one overflowing 
with vibrant energy — a little girl who rode as well as any adult and who 
was given her own horse at the age of ten. * 

But she was plain, and while she cherished friendships she made no 
romantic attachments. In fact, she never 'earned to dance. Perhaps her 
small size made her more self-conscious than she cared to admit. When 
Clara “grew up,” the elevation and breadth were not very marked. She 
never exceeded five feet in height and never, even in her settled 
matronly years, topped one hundred pounds in weight. 

There was some talk of her following the older children into a job 
in the local mill. But the plan was abandoned, not because of scruples 
against sending a girl in her teens to work a twelve-hour, six-day week, 
but because she was loo short to reach the spindles that children’s 
hands were so adept at changing. 

Instead, Clara was pt in the public schools, in preparation for 
about the only career open to a foredoomed spinster not strong enough 
to do manual work — schoolteacl ng. 

How her father must have worried over this child of his with her 
small physique and her plain looks— high cheekbones, a very wide 
mouth and rather heavy businesslike features. These homely handicaps 
all but nullified the charm in Clara’s appcara.nce contributed by luxu ri- 
ant brown hair, small hands and a - ijiy waist. 

In May of 1839, at the age of seventeen and one-half, Clara Barton 
stepped into her presumable life career when she won appointment as a 
school teacher in District School Number 9, a job within living distance 
of her home. 

For a decade this pattern held — teaching in small schools, year after 
year exerting discipline over pupils much la’-ger and stronger, if 



younger, than herself, and developing more and more firmness in her 
jaw. In teaching Clara was successful, so much so that in 1849 she 
enrolled in the Liberal Institute, at Clinton, New York, to prepare for 
a better teaching job. When she left the institute, she organized a new 
“liberal school” for children at Bordentown, New Jersey. 

During the years at Clinton there was a hint of romantic attachment 
in Clara’s life, an association with Samuel Ramsey, a divinity student 
at Hamilton College. But if romance seemed to be hinted at one time, 
it turned into friendship, and in later years Ramsey became one of 
Miss Barton’s aides in the Red Cross. Finh was written to any pre- 
suppositions of romantic feelings when finally Clara sued him to re- 
cover money she had lent to Him. 


In February, 1854, when she had reached the age of thirty-three, Clara 
Barton had to give up schoolteaching because of throat trouble, the 
first of a long series of bouts of ill health that were to mark her adult 
life. She left Bordentown and went to Washington, D.C., where she 
became a copyist in the Patent Office. There she was one of scores of 
people with good eyes and penmanship who took to their rooms arm- 
fuls of official papers, there to copy the requisite number of forms re- 
quired by law in each case. 

At piece-work rates she was able to earn, she wrote, between $71 
and $83 a month — money earned by working late into each night, 
leading a monastic existence, and barely eking out a living in the in- 
flationary period that marked the national capital in that era. 

Life became much more pleasant when Clara’s native efficiency and 
grit, plus energetic pulling of wires through political friends, won her 
an appointment as confidential clerk to the Commissioner of Patents, 
Charles Mason. The job gave her a salary of $1,400 a year, short and 
regular working hours, and a certain definite position in the Washing- 
ton liierarchy of bureaucratic levels. There she might well have re- 
mained for life but for a change in the Administration in 1857 that 
cost Mason his job and Clara her appointment. Way had to be made 
for a new crop of patronage appointees. Also, there was a definite 
move to oust women from government jobs. 



111 with malaria, dejected and “finished” with Washington, Miss 
Barton, now thirty-six, returned to North Oxford, where she was en- 
abled to earn a living by the generosity of the new government masters 
who assigned her copying work that was forwarded by post. Thus 
almost three years passed, the malaria was overcome, and unexpect- 
edly, in 1 860, the press of work bearing down on the Patent Office 
prompted the regime to invite Clara back to a salaried post. 

She jumped at the chan,ce and picked up both her old routine and 
her old political friendships in short order. 

In the relatively small community of Washington, it was possible 
for an educated woman of dignified bearing to be both a clerk in a 
bureau and a friend of congressmen and Cabinet members. It was 
probably easier in many ways for a plain woman than for an attractive 
one with whom officials might fear involvement. But easy or not for 
one of her type, Clara Barton capped her own position by v/inning 
an invitation to the Inaugural Ball for Presidmt Abraham Lincoln. 
Then she lost the first opportunity to meet her future great friend when 
a bad cold kept her from attending. 

As Clara Barton sniffled her lonely v.’ay through the evening of the 
Inaugural Ball no one, and she least of all, imagined that she would 
be one of the few persons so closely associated with Lincoln in na- 
tional fame little more than four years later that upon his assassmation 
the military would rush a special guard to her house. 


There was to be, however, something less than accident in her meteoric 
career. It would seem, indeed, that Clara Barton, working from a 
mixture of selfish and unselfish motives, had seen a driving need for 
women like herself to lay a groundwork of influence in Washington 

Part of the reason she had beo” fired two years earlier from her job 
in the Patent Office was her sex. In 1 855 President Franklin Pierce 
and his Secretary of the Interior, Robert McClelland, had opened a 
direct move to oust women from government offices. McClelland un- 
dertook a personal crusade against the female copyists because of the 
“obvious impropriety in the mixing of the sexes within the walls of a 
public office.” 

Commissioner Mason tried to fight the order, carrying personally 

2 « 


the fight to retain his confidential clerk, Miss Barton. McClelland sug- 
gested at first a compromise, that Clara be given work to do but away 
from the oflice of the Commissioner of Patents. Even that suggested 
compromise was overcome by Mason, but the growing crusade against 
women clerks then provided an excuse for patronage reshuffling when 
the Democratic President James Buchanan was nominated in 1857. 
Buchanan finally forced the resignation of Commissioner Mason, to 
replace him with a Democrat, and Clara was finished. 

When she returned to Washington two years later, she had a new 
plan for survival in the seething world of politics where even a clerk’s 
job was political manna to the victorious spoilsmen. 

If the life of a Washington clerk was to be her life — and she decided 
that this would be so — she was going to have behind her every po- 
litical resource that she could muster. In the following six months she 
did muster the resources, and in that short period stepped forever out 
of the clerk’s role. 

Through a friend, Elvira Stone, she met Senator Henry Wilson, 
from Massachusetts, and captivated him, less as a woman than as a 
personality. Soon they were visiting one another almost daily. Without 
Henry Wilson’s backing much of Clara Barton’s Civil War achieve- 
ment might never have occurred. 

Perhaps Wilson was no more drawn to Clara Barton than he was 
angry at her highest superior, Secretary of the Interior Caleb B. Smith, 
whom he referred to in his first visit with Clara as a “damned old 
fool.” It could be highly valuable to a senator to have a loyal follower 
in the center of the office of a Cabinet member he despised. And Wilson 
went a step further to fortify through his own friendships Clara’s po- 
sition and her loyalty to him. As Chairman of the Senate Committee 
on Military Affairs, he spoke of her to his closest friend, Charles 
Sumner, Postmaster General in Lincoln’s new Cabinet, and Sumner, 
too, became Clara Barton’s friend. 

Thus matters stood in April, 1861, when Fort Sumter fell, the Civil 
War began and President Lincoln issued his call for volunteers. Clara 
Barton had been back in Washington for five months when she was 
transformed from an ambitious, self-seeking although hard-working, 
spinsterish clerk into a tiny bundle of galvanized energy in the Union 



If it is true that heroes are born, not made, it also is true that the 
born heroes spend a lot of energy getting into the spot where they 
can assert their birthright. So it was with Clara Barton. 

The Civil War fired her with an enthusiasm marked from the very 
first by a sympathy for the men it struck. Before a battle was joined 
between the forces of the Union and the South she was a marked 
individualist in finding busy occupation in Washington — ^particularly 
in reading to, and writing letters for, the Massachusetts volunteers who 
came to train and live in quarters in the as yet uncompleted Capitol 

When the wounded from the First Battle of Bull Run were brought 
back to Washington in bloody bandages* to be racked up on straw 
ticks in all sorts of makeshift shelters, Clara was there among them, 
helping as she might. Not that she was alone: most of Washington’s 
women were there, too, fulfilling the traditional nursing role of women 
behind the lines of wars since the beginning of history. 

But this little woman, who combined her ministrations with the long 
hours of work involved in earning a living, was striking out on a new 
tack. The battlefield itself was calling to her — the same call that across 
the ocean had summoned to historic greatness seven years earlier a 
similar determined woman, but one with more professional equipment 
to back her ardor. There Florence Nightingale, the nurse, had written 
another chapter in the emancipation of women on the battlefields in 
the Crimean War. 

For almost a year, Clara Barton was what appears in retrospect to 
have been perhaps the biggest nu.sance in the offices of the bureaucracy 
of what passed in the early bumbling stages for the Union Govern- 
ment’s War Department. Probably more than one of the ranking 
officials there sighed with relief in March of 1862 when final illness 
struck old Captain Stephen Barton, then eighty-eight years old. Clara 
Barton, notified of his condition, tiurried home and saw him die. But 
this dramatic interlude only gave added impetus to her ambition. 

“He is journeying home,” she wrote of her father. “With this, my 
highest duties close, and I would fain be allov ed to go and administer 
comfort to our brave men who peril life and limb in defence of the 
priceless boon the fathers so dearly won.” 

That letter, with its Victorian turn of phrase, was not the outpouring 



of an emotional woman caught up in the mawkish sentiment of frus- 
tration. It was a note from one already a leading agitator for her 
cause, and it was written to — and received seriously by — Governor 
John A. Andrew of Massachusetts. He knew Clara well by then. 

The first year of war had made Clara Barton a fairly notable 
figure in Massachusetts, flying about as she did under the long pro- 
tective shadow cast by Senator Wilson. She had written hundreds of 
letters telling Massachusetts of the “comfort needs” she solicited for 
its men summoned to the war. She had made an earlier trip home 
marked by a small-sized lecture tour to whip up fire for her cause. 

In fact, she was a one-woman crusade, eager to do a job but notably 
eager likewise to do it herself; few women appeared then or later 
among her associates and none ever was invited to be her equal. She 
would lead or fail. 

Her progress seemed more negative and noisy than anything else, 
but she showed an infinite capacity for at least getting attention from 
the dominant personalities, such as the Army Surgeon General, Alfred 
Hitchcock, who, in reply to a letter that Clara prompted Governor An- 
drew to write, at least recognized her: “1 do not think at the present 
time Miss Barton had better undertake to go to Burnside’s Division 
to act as a nurse.” 

Clara’s sharp reply was that forty young men in that division were 
former school pupils ot hers. She took her case to Major D. H. Rucker, 
Assistant Quartermaster General, finding him where he sat behind a 
wicket in a large office handing out orders. Facing him, Clara cried, 
and he invited her inside. He asked her why in the name of all that 
counted did she, a woman, want to go to the front? 

Clara Barton told him. And she described the supplies that were 
stacked in her lodgings and that overflowed into a warehouse — all 
contributed by her backers in Massachusetts who trusted that she per- 
sonally would see them delivered to the men in the field. Rucker 
melted and gave her the first military pass she had ever held in her 
hand — a pass to go to the front in Virginia if his superiors approved. 
The Major added, “And God bless you.” 

But Rucker was only a major. His paper was a preliminary, the first 
step through a dozen offices, culminating in Major General John Pope’s 
lordly command headquarters. 



The date was August 12, 1862. Clara Barton finally was free to go 
to the field, entitled to free transportation by train or steamboat for 
herself and her voluntarily gathered supplies. As for Clara, she was 
simply a lone volunteer serving without pay, rank or authority except 
what she could wheedle or demand. 

The great permission came the day after she had written in her 
diary; “Battle at Culpeper reached us . . . Concluded to go to Cul- 
peper . . . Packed goods.” Clara wrote that she removed ilie hoop 
from her skirt, put on a plaid jacket and dark skirt, loaded her comfort 
supplies into a wagon, and alone drove a four-mule team to Cedar 
Mountain, where she arrived two days later. 

She found Brigade Surgeon James L. Diinn surrounded by wounded 
and all but out of surgical dressings. Of these, Clara had a large 
supply. Later Surgeon Dunn claimed that he had coined Clara’s future 
title, “Angel of the Battlefield.” He recalled, “I thought that night if 
heaven ever sent out a holy angel, she must he one, her assistance 
was so timely.” 

So it started, this Civil War career that continued until the war 
ended, a career written by one woman wherever the war raged in 
Virginia — a battle Clara fought with nursing assistance, hot soup and 
pies prepared on rain-soaked battlefields. And she gathered one by 
one her principal lieutenants — Mrs. Ada Moreell, Miss Lydie F. Has- 
kell, Miss Almira Fales, to name only a few. Soon she had a small 
corps gathering the gifts chat she carried with her. But she went alone, 
except for men to drive added wagons. 

The die had been cast, and s.,mewhere in the lantern-lit nights of 
the years that passed so quickly and yet seemed too long, the New 
England schoolteacher, the Washington clerk, the patronage-conscious 
government hand — all evaporated in th.c mists and there emerged that 
rarest of nature’s phenomenons, a leader of self-asserted rank who 
neither held nor needed a comn.tssion from authority because the 
authority had not been invented to give it. 

Somewhere in the heart of it lingered the spark that would glow 
slowly into the Red Cro^s. 

The first lonely drive past unbelieving sentries to Culpeper was the 
curtain raiser to a score of battlefields, to activities that over the years 
would finally reach such proportions that the newspapers would devote 



long dispatches to Clara and her utilization of ‘^mother earth as a 
kitchen hearth.” These dispatches would tell of vast stretches of battle- 
scarred earth where Clara would turn out, with her now loosely or- 
ganized but disciplined helpers, 700 loaves of freshly baked bread for 
a field breakfast for the wounded, 200 gallons of soup, a wash boiler 
full of whisky sauce for bread puddings. 

I have had a barrel of apple sauce made today and given out 
every spoonful of it with my own hands. I have cooked ten dozen 
eggs, made cracker toast, cornstarch bla.ic mange, milk punch, 
arrowroot, washed hands and faces, put ice on hot heads, mustard 
on cold feet, written six soldiers’ letters home, stood beside three 
deathbeds . . . 

So it was right up to the Battle of Petersburg and the Siege of 
Richmond, marking the end of the war, and followed so soon afterward 
by General Lee’s surrender. Clara was at both these final battles, and 
from them came echoes of responses that were to mark closely her 
long future road. 

One was the chance meeting with a Swiss youth, Jules Golay, a 
volunteer in the Union Army whom she nursed. The other was a re- 
union after many years with her brother Stephen who had gone South, 
and there remained with his property and Confederate friends through- 
out the Civil War. 

Jules Golay recovered, wrote to his family of Clara’s motherly min- 
istrations, and in turn it was to be his parents’ home in Geneva where 
Clara first heard of the Red Cross movement in Europe. She met 
Stephen, by now a Union prisoner and a dying man, watched him 
die, and went on in later years to make his son and her nephew one 
of her closest lieutenants in her own American Red Cross movement. 
But other years were ahead — arduous and rewarding years. 


If the publicity Clara Barton attained in the Civil War enabled her 
to become the national figure she needed to be in order to make her 
life work a reality, it must be equally recorded that one humane and 
often heart-rending chore immediately following the war provided the 
capstone for her reputation. 



It had been glamorous and exciting to tend the wounded on the 
battlefields of Virginia. She might have stopped there and plunged 
immediately into the profitable lecture field that beckoned her. But 
now Clara set for herself a second mission. 

She was the first to step forward and volunteer — to insist' upon the 
job — of doing all possible to identify the unknown dead from this 
bloody, fratricidal war. Grim statistics illustrate the formidability of 
tnat task. 

The Union forces had recorded 359,528 dead. Of these, only 172,- 
400 had been identified. Furthermore, even the number of known 
graves on the battlefields were 43,973 less than the dead. The harassed 
War Department, plagued by the dual pro*blems of sending back the 
living soldiers to their homes and with carrying out all sorts of contrary 
political policies relative to occupation of the lately rebellious areas, 
had no time to worry about individuals who had passed to other muster 

But Clara Barton insisted that someone should worry. And between 
the final battle and the ultimate surrender of the Confederate forces 
she dressed in appropriate clothes lent by friends to call on President 
Lincoln. Thrice she called, and twice she got soaked in the March 
rains, but Lincoln was too busy for even her to intrude upon him. It 
finally was Senator Wilson who acted as her emissary. On March 1 1, 
1865, one week after Clara saw Lincoln at his second inauguration 
but refrained from makuig her issue there, a historic letter was de- 
livered to her lodgings: 

To THE Friends of Missin*' Persons: Miss Clara Barton has 
kindly offered to search for the missing prisoners of war. Please 
address her at Annapolis, giving her name, regiment and company 
of any missing prisoner. 

(Signed) A. Lincoln. 

That was enough. Newspapers throughout the country reported the 
appeal. The government provided various facilities but no compensa- 
tion for Clara Barton, and she dove into the work with the help of 
her old wartime friends, plus the addition of young Jules Golay. 

This is not the place to even summarize adequately that phase of 
Clara Baiton’s work, an arduous year that culminated in a visit to 
the wretched Andersonville prison in Georgia that was the most 



inhumane of all the prisoner-of-war cages, a place where Union soldiers 
died by the thousands and their bodies were dumped into mass graves. 
Clara worked through the records, sorted out the bodies and worked 
to have the spot hallowed as a national cemetery. So it became. 

While Lincoln lay in state after his assassination in April, 1865, 
Clara wrote one hundred letters to families of missing men. A month 
later President Johnson ordered special printing facilities placed at her 
disposal. And in 1866 Congress appropriated $15,000 for continua- 
tion of the job. In 1869, upon giving a final accounting, Clara Barton’s 
Bureau of Missing Persons had identified more than 20,000 dead who 
otherwise would have remained anonymous, as well as distributed 
hundreds of thousands of circulars and letters of inquiry or advice. She 
had spent $ 1 6,759 as well as her time. 

But the period had long since passed when Clara needed to borrow 
clothes for a formal call, or to wonder where she would find the means 
to support her volunteer work. 

This time she heeded the call of the lecture platform, and its rewards 
were munificent. 

From Boston and New York to cities as far west as Des Moines, 
Iowa, and Madison, Wisconsin, Clara Barton made the lyceuni cir- 
cuit. Hers was a twofold purpose: to take to the public the story of 
war as she had seen it, and to seek out in every case information that 
would contribute to her search for the missing dead. 

Honest appraisal, and her own background, seem to indicate that 
money was not the controlling impulse in her lecture tours, but the 
money was important. Her fees ranged from $50 to $150 an engage- 
ment, and the engagements multiplied at such a rate that her progress 
from city to city often became as rigorous as her battlefield experiences 
— flood-swollen rivers to ford, freezing nights at railroad junctions, 
and travel that was at best a hard.ship in trains as they existed then. 

She was more an enthusiastic speaker than a skilled one, but she 
had the gift of turning a phrase. Talking of Fredericksburg, she de- 
scribed “its rocky brow of frowning forts”; she reconstructed South 
Mountain in a word picture of “stubble hillside and burning September 
sun”; Antietam in full fury was “a chain of Etnas.” And yet she could 
say, “I am the most timid person on earth. All speech-making terrifies 
me. First, I have no taste for it, and lastly I hate it.” 



Nevertheless, she rose to what the public demanded of her, that 
public which filled halls to hear the little woman variously billed on 
the garish posters of the day as “Angel of the Battlefield,” “Angel of 
Mercy,” “Daughter of the Regiment,” or “The Florence Nightingale 
of America.” In Boston she once recorded paying $10.75 for a new 
hat and spending $2 25 to have her hair specially dressed for a formal 
evening appearance. 

There was stimulus also in the associations which her Ovvn fame 
brought to her. Louisa May Alcott, herself a sometime nurse in Wash- 
ington during the war; Julia Ward Howe, Lucy Stone, Frances Willard 
and Susan B. Anthony — all were her friends. Susan Anthony aroused 
her interest in the Equal Rights novement, but Clara eschewed over- 
active attention to it. She was too busy and, strange as the observation 
may seem at the time in the light of her subsequent Red Cross activity, 
she was never one to plunge too quickly or too deeply into a movement. 

Furthermore, she was giving ail she had to f;er own interests — so 
much so in fact that on a night in the winter of 1868—69 she walked 
onto a lecture platform in Portland, Maine, looked at the audience 
facing her, and found speech failing her completely. 

She collapsed that night, and entered upon a decade of ill health. 

In August of 1 869, after months devoted to cleaning up the Missing 
Persons work, and setting her affairs in order, Clara Barton made a 
will that in the event of her death would dispose of an estate of $30,000 
she had accumulated in die past three years, bought passage for Eu- 
rope, and sailed on the liner Caledonia. 

Clara Barton’s destination was Geneva, Switzerland, where the par- 
ents of Jules Golay — Isaac and Eliza — had insi' tcd she should come 
to let their climate aid in repairing her ravaged healtn. 

+ + + + + 

to Acceptance 

Opon arriving in Geneva in J869, Clara Barton received two 
surprises. The first was recognition that here, 4,000 miles from home, 
she was a personage, a celebrity because of the work she had or- 
ganized and had done almost alone in the Civil War. The second was 
to learn about the Red C'ross, concerning which she apparently had 
not heard the least word in Washington. 

The latter requires a paragraph or two of explanation, because the 
Red Cross was already a '-'el! known topic of debate in high official 
circles in Washington. But in the division of jealous cliques the "Angel 
of the Battlefield” had been frozen ut of the earlier private diplomatic 

Clara Barton was a protege of the influential Senator Wilson, a 
friend of Lincoln and Grant, but not so admired by everyone else. On 
the other side of the fence, among the groups and individuals who 
did great works and were no more >hv than Clara Barton about build- 
ing their own positions for the sake of their missions, were the leaders 
of the Sanitary Commission, headed by Dr. Bellows, and Miss Doro- 
thea Dix, a prominent volunteer aide. 

The Sanitary Commission was the oflicially recognized agency in 
the Civil War to provide nurses for convalescent soldiers brought back 
from the battles and to gather medical supplies and other contributions 
for the Army’s medical service, (’lara Barton knew of this work and 




applauded it, but the mutual feelings existing between the Sanitary 
Commission and the one-woman mulecade taken to the battlefields by 
Clara Barton are understandable. 

Now, in 1869, the dedicated advocates of the Red Cross were 
apparently willing to grasp at straws, or the tiniest wisp of a woman 
who seemed to have influence in America. There was more in their 
welcome to Miss Barton than a tribute to her fame or personality. And 
they were honest about it. 

On a clear October day this whole story was unfolded to Clara 
Barton by a delegation of Swiss, headed by Dr. Appia, who called 
upon her in the Golay home. They complimented her on her battle- 
field work as dramatically relayed to Geneva by the younger Golay 
through his parents. And Clara Barton responded with the almost 
excessive emotion that now and then broke through her normally cool 
New England exterior. She was shocked. She found the whole story 
as incomprehensible to herself as to the Swiss. She looked at the na- 
tions already members of the Red Cross and commented: 

Not a civilized people in the world but ourselves missing, and I 
saw Greece, Spain and Turkey there. I began to fear that in the 
eyes of the rest of mankind we could not be far from barbarians. 
This reflection did not furnish a stimulating food for national 
pride. I grew more and more ashamed. 

In this and subsequent talks, the Red Cross became Clara Barton’s 
new life mission. She went on to Corsica to spend the winter, accord- 
ing to plans originally made in the United States, but now her baggage 
contained a small library of literature on the Red Cross. Primarily she 
read and reread a small book already dubbed by the French historian 
Joseph Ernest Renan as “the greatest work of the century” — a trans- 
lation of Un Souvenir de Solferino. 

Reading day by day through the hot and sultry hours marking her 
Corsican winter, Clara Barton achieved complete self-identification 
with this stirring story and its aftermath — an interest so deep that it 
made her forget her dyspepsia, her fatigue and worry about the strains 
imposed upon her frail body through forty-nine extraordinary years. 




In 1 870, tired of Corsica, Clara Barton returned to Switzerland, nurs- 
ing the aftermath of a bout with malaria. After visiting the Golays at 
Geneva again, she went to Bern, where she was joined by Judge Joseph 
Sheldon and his wife, Abby, taking a holiday after Sheldon had paid 
an annual visit to a factory he owned in England. 

Here the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War found Clara B uton, 
and here Dr. Appia and his group again called upon Miss Barton, with 
an invitation to accompany them on their work of mercy in this war. 
The group went along without Clara, who needed a few more days 
to mend her health. She followed within ‘a week, almost alone as of 
old. Her only companion was a Swiss girl, Antoinette Margot, slim, 
fair and an art student, capable at translating French and German. 

When the pair slatted for Strasbourg, Antoinette took without re- 
alizing it a far longer step, one of constant attendance on Clara Barton 
that would last f')r years. 

Traveling by train and by coach, breasting the fiood of refugees 
from the battle zoni-s. C'lara and Antoinette reached Miilhausen, where 
they were not permitted to go near the wounded, and then Strasbourg, 
which was not yet under siege. Here occurred another small incident 
showing the depth and breadth of the background Clara Barton’s war 
work had created for herself, and for her newly adopted movement. 

In Strasbourg were an A. .er)ean consul and vice consul, who would 
have been only anonymous, harassed oflicials to any other Americans, 
but not to Clara. The consul was .^‘"elix C. M. Petard, a Civil War 
surgeon, and the vice ccmsul a former Civil War chaplain, both old 
friends. Dr. Petard had a covey of stranded tourists on his hands. He 
turned them over to Clara to shepherd, which suited her perfectly as 
she wanted to get to Huguenau. She reached Huguenau, another 
battlefield, but again was not permilii o near the wounded so she went 
to Brumath to await Fate’s next move. There Fate moved. 

Messengers found Clara and delivered a letter sent by Louise, Grand 
Duchess of Baden, inviting her to come for a visit and take part in 
the Red Cross work. Grand Duchess Louise was probably the most 
prominent European aristocrat actively dedicated to Red Cross work. 
Herself a tiny but regal woman, a noted philanthropist and daughter 



of the Prussian King, William I, soon to become German Emperor, she 
immediately became a fast friend to Clara, and a lifelong one. 

Clara Barton already had written to the American ambassador in 
Paris, Elihu B. Washburne, offering her humane services to the French. 
But in her view of service, it mattered not at all that the first acceptance 
of her came from the German side, where Dr. Appia had recommended 
her to Grand Duchess Louise. There was a job to be done and, after 
touring several of the Duchess’s palaces, already turned into hospitals, 
and discussing plans for civilian aid, she accepted the offer and Louise’s 

Her visit continued through several weeks — while the Grand Duke 
of Baden commanded the German forces submitting Strasbourg to 
siege — until September when new's of the capitulation of the city 
prompted Clara to request permission to go to the aid of the civilian 
population there. 

For forty days, while the Grand Duchess Louise collected relief 
clothes and provisions for the conquered city, Clara supervised dLstribu- 
tion of them, finally she improvised a system of using local women to 
make, alter and mend the indiscriminately gathered clothing and other 
articles. And in the course of succoring a city, the erstwhile school- 
teacher and battlefield nurse became the intimate of Louise; the friend 
on a perfectly equal level of (’ount Bismarck and his Countess, while 
the Iron Chancellor served as Governor General of conquered Alsace; 
and, on the other hand, of a French olficcr, Bcrgmann, who headed a 
French relief committee and naturally despised the German invaders. 

The year 1870 pa.s.scd into 1871. Clara regained her health. She 
went on to direct relief work at Metz, w'hich had been so shattered by 
a German siege that the residents had eaten their horses, and some 
said their pets, before surrendering. She had a hand in distributing 
relief there sent by America thiough a commission headed by her old 
friend. General Burnside, but Burnside and his group were not cordial 
enough to give Clara official position among themselves. In American 
official eyes Clara was still on the fringe of things. 

Clara Barton went to Paris and viewed the shuttered city occupied 
by its conquerors. She pitied it, but perhaps because of earlier and 
more satisfying experiences with the Germans, the conquerors, she 
spoke her mind: 



“GcDuany is more like us. There is a fixedness of purpose in her 
people, her a chor goes to the bottom. France swings in the water, and 
changes with every whipping wind.” 

But Clara set ’'p headquarters in Paris, and launched her own relief 
program. Horace • ireeley printed an appeal for funds to aid her work. 
Senator Henry Wilson, touring Europe, visited her. Edmund Dwight, 
a famous Boston lawyer, collected bounty for her works, 'ut when 
the work in Paris was finished, Clara returned to Karlsruhe, to spend 
the Christmas that was her fiftieth birthday with other German friends, 
the Zimmermans, and to go on to visit again with the Grand Duke and 
Duchess ol Baden. 

Then came fhe depression that ahvays' followed buoyant rimes of 
busy strain, and this time affliction of the eyes that came near to 
blindness. Clara retreated with AntoincUe to England, where she spent 
a miserable ycai. aimlessly and pe.ssimistically waiting, half paralyzed, 
w'ith her eyes bandaged. Only tw'che months after her gay Christmas 
at Karlsruhe she was in London, a physical wreck, hardly cheered at 
all by ihc visits of friend? who mustered around her. 

In October, 187.L after four years in Europe, Clara sailed for 
America, to nurse her b'oken health in solitude in the family home 
at North Oxford, Massachusetts. Ncnhing now was farther from her 
mind than a crusade on behalf of the Red Cross. 

F’our more years would pass — years of illness and fitful recoveries, 
a long siege in a sanitarium at Dansville, New York, and finally 
establishment of a home there by Clara — before the Red Cross idea 
and Clara, with restored health would come together again. 

Then in 1877 came news f impending war between Russia and 
Turkey. The spark remindca Clara Barton oi the Red and she 
picked up its cause. She wrote to Dr. Appia: “Like the old war horse 
that has rested long in quiet pastures ! recc>gnize the bugle note that 
calls me to my place, and, though 1 may not do what 1 once could, 
1 am come to offer what I may.” 

Dr. Appia replied with a long account of progress in European 
development and appreciation of the Red Cross, and sent a batch of 
literature on it. “And now, my worthy friend,” he enjoined her, “go 
on courageously with faith and hope. The cause is good; let us defend 
it everywhere and let us be firm in upholding the banner of charity. 
It will be ever the surest means of combating the principles of war.” 



Close after this letter came another from M. Gustave Moynier, 
president of the International Committee, enclosing a letter commend- 
ing Clara Barton to the President of the United States as representative 
of the Red Cross. 

By this time Horace Greeley was dead, and Henry Wilson too. But 
Clara Barton journeyed back to Washington and found herself still 
capable of making new friends, rallying other formidable names to her 

How bright the prospects looked then, as rosy perhaps as the flam- 
ing red color of the Red Cross banner itself. But that was the curtain- 
raising atmosphere of false hope preceding a long battle indeed. The 
1877 endeavor turned out to be only a flicker of hope, quickly ex- 


Equally sure of her way around Washington, when there was a chal- 
lenging job to be done, and with health fully restored by the tonic of 
activity, Clara Barton called upon President Harrison with her extraor- 
dinary credentials from M. Moynier. The President received her 
courteously and with sympathy. He suggested that she proceed to lay 
the cause before other members of the Cabinet. Most of them were 
equally affable. 

But only one member of the Cabinet counted, in this Administra- 
tion where the President believed firmly in deputizing his authority to 
the men chosen as his responsible assistants. That focal point for all 
things dealing with international commitments was the Department of 
State. The Secretary of State was W. M. Evarls, and the Assistant 
Secretary was Frederic W. Seward, son of the Secretary of State who 
had studied the same proposal advanced by Dr. Bellows in 1 866. 

Assistant Secretary Seward got out the files of comment left by his 
father, and subsequent ones from the State Department regime under 
Hamilton Fish. His reply, which neither Secretary Evarts nor the 
President saw fit to overrule, was firmly in the negative. 

“It is all settled,” Mr. Seward told Miss Barton at their final inter- 
view. “It will never be considered again.” 

Few prophecies by men in responsible public office have been more 
incorrect. But for the moment the ruling collapsed the hopes of the 



Red Cross for an official foothold in America and the ambitions of 
Miss Barton as well. 

With such backing and prestige, both for the idea and for its spokes- 
man, the question immediately arises as to what made the establish- 
ment of the American Red Cross such a profound achievement, almost 
a revolutionary ^hing. The answer is that there was a great deal more 
than the chartering of a relief agency involved, that from its very start 
the Red Cross was a symbol of principle and debate mt'''h broader 
than its field of operations. 

In the century that had elapsed between the Revolution and 1877, 
American political thinking was dominated to the point of obsession 
by a fear of entangling alliances with foreign countries. Among po- 
litical leaders this was not a matter of party debate; it was virtually 
unanimous. The whole Red Cross idea ran head on into this stone 
wall. However respected Miss Baiton and her associates might be, 
however great might be the respect also accorded to the idea behind 
the Red Cross, still it was “foreign.” Thus adherence to the Red Cross 
Convention meant that the United States was binding itself to do 
something in concert with other countries. 

Each national Red Cross Society — even those in Iron Curtain coun- 
tries today — carries official status. In other words, it exists on the basis 
of a pledge by the country involved to respect Red Cross neutrality 
in time of v/ar and to uphold the standards of the Red Cross. 

For the United States to join the Red Cross required that the 
President sign, and tiiat Congress ratify, a treaty of cooperation in 
Rod Cross matters with the other nations that already had adopted 
the Geneva Red Cross Convei tion. Tnereafter, the Red Cross would 
be in a position to seek a charter from Congress and thus become 
the truly national organization that was anticipated. 

But the stumbling block was that “entangling alliance” business 
involved in the necessary treaty. 

Clara Ba' ton accepted defeat .. 1877, but only defeat as in a battle, 
not in a campaign. While writing, talking, agitating — discussing 
strategy with such old master campaigners among her friends as Gen- 
eral Phil Sheridan — she awaited patiently another sort of political 

This came with the election in 1880 of President Garfield, and with 
his choice of James G. Blaine as Secretary of State. Then Clara Barton 



and her American coterie of Red Cross friends moved fast indeed. The 
activity started with a telegram of congratulations from Clara to Gar- 
field on his election. Immediately after his inauguration in March of 
1881, she was again on the White House doorstep, with the four- 
year-old letter from M. Moynier. 

Never had prospects looked brighter. Now there was no tedium of 
interminable interviews and explanations. With Administration sup- 
port, Congress seemed destined to fall into line. It was only a matter 
of time, and the mists of legalistic clouds hovering over the “entan- 
gling alliance” bugaboo seemed to have been dissipated. 

Now was the time to take the big step of establishing the nucleus 
of a formal organization to hoist the Red Cross banner the minute 
authorization to act as a quasi-official arm of the government was 

Boldly and confidently Clara Barton called together her coterie of 
friends, for a meeting at her residence at a time which is officially 
inscribed as the founding date of the American National Red Cross. 






First Steps 

On May 21, 1881, a small group of persons met in an incon- 
spicuous house in Washington. D.C., to organize “the greatest venture 
of voluntary service in the world.” 

Miss Barton opened this impoi tant meeting with a review of the long 
light already waged by her for recognition of the Red Cross idea. She 
pas.scd briefly over the frustrations, going on to spark anew the en- 
thusiasm of her handful of followers, and to launch an idea different 
from but supplementary tc the European Red Cross pattern. 

Her keen judgment uad made her aware that something more than 
the European war-assistance program was needed tc spark American 
enthusiasm. At this meeting ^uss Barton broached the “something 

Why not, she asked her co-workers, stress equally the need for a 
peacetime organization to assist victims of natural disasters to recover 
from such onslaughts? 

The new idea more than ai ) . hing else accounted for eventual 
acceptance of the Red Cross by the American government. But it 
opened also a new field of battle for the tough-minded Clara Barton 
— open battle with the leaders of the very Red Cross whose cause she 

But was any crusade ever easy? Crusades, even the ones of highest 
intent, are essentially battles for change, battles against the status quo. 




Crusaders always find the status quo well organized, well accepted and 
well defended. Status quo breeds organization. On the contrary, no 
crusade is ever well organized at the start. To have a crusade there 
must be followers gathered from rebels against the status quo. Rebels 
are notably individuals. To organize them takes time and energy. Clara 
Barton never doubted that she lacked either. She thrust forth her new 
idea, that of a Red Cross as a continuing, ever present relief or- 

In its development, that conception was to put the American Red 
Cross next door to anyone in the United States, who might face other- 
wise overwhelming ruin at the hands of flood, wind or fire. 

It is quite probable that'^this new addition of a humane activity, 
apparently incorporated in her plans at this last moment by Miss 
Barton, can be credited for the present stature of the American Red 

The meeting adopted Miss Barton's constitution for the founding 
of a society to become a member of “The Red Cross of the Inter- 
national Conventions of Geneva,” of which Miss Barton then was 
designated “American Representative.” 


There were many individuals who felt that it was humiliating that 
the American organization should have to embark on this great ven- 
ture as a branch of a foreign group. Perhaps Clara Barton shared 
the feeling, but if so she did not show it. 

The important thing was that there existed an instrument to fill a 
void in America’s fast-developing national consciousness, a means by 
which the great and open heart of America could at last be set up 
as an organized guide for the hand representing its resources and 

No “great names” were present at the meeting in Miss Barton’s 
modest house at 1326 I Street. But their presence was not needed. 
Already the struggling idea had won acceptance by many impressive 
leaders — among them Robert T. Lincoln, Secretary of War under 
Garfield and son of the President, who had backed Clara Barton 
mightily in her Civil War work. Lincoln won over his wealthy friend 
George Pullman. 



Clara was backed, too, by a firm little band of nationally known 
newspaper correspondents who seemed to see in Clara Barton and the 
Red Cross idea an inevitable step toward what later would be called 
America’s “manifest destiny.” The writers included Walter P. Phillips, 
George Kennan and Colonel Richard J. Hinton, all giants in a day 
of thought-induv 'ng personal journalism. These were the “second 
generation” of Clara Barton’s newspaper friends, the successors of the 
great Civil War correspondents, Horace Greeley and Chark;s A. Dana. 

And as Clara Barton set forth her plan, her old friends were watch- 
ing her work from Europe. Moynier’s last letter to Clara Barton had 
assured her, “1 await with complete confidence the result of your 
sympathetic endeavors.” 

Then the crudest of all blows struck the country, and the newly 
inspired Red Cross movement. 

On July 2, President Garfield was shot by the assassin, Charles 
J. Guiteau. The President died in September. 

Once more the political work must be started all over again, first 
with the new' President, Chester A. Arthur, and later with the Secre- 
tary of State who succeeded Blaine, Frederick T Frelinghuysen. Miss 
Barton bearded the political lions, rounded up old Civil War friends, 
and bombarded Congress with letters. At the same time Walter Phil- 
lips, who was correspondent foe the Associated Press, handled the 
national publicity. 

In the meantime C ’ ra Barton moved to organize as a beginning 
a local Washington Chapter of the Red Cross. In October the forming 
group obtained from the gove ament of the District of Columbia a 
charter, and that very fall it put into practice its nvow'ed purpose. 

When fires ravaged forests in Michigan, scattering destruction over 
a wide area, affecting hundreds of families, and creating needs beyond 
the scope of local resources, the infant Red Cross went to the rescue 

The fires occurred in Septetr’ic*-. Before winter grasped this remote 
country in its grip, the Red Cross had raised and distributed $80,000 
for immediate relief and the rehabilitation work which is so much more 
important. And, in passing, the first chapter taught others how to 
organize and operate . 

On March 16, 1882, Congress ratified the international treaty cov- 
ering the Red Cross. By this date, the Red Cross movement had ceased 
to be an individual promotion; ratification had hinged upon active 


work by a literal “Who’s Who” of American leadership — politicians, 
educators, physicians and humanitarians. But the light of conflict had 
never shifted a moment from the five-foot figure of Clara Barton, by 
then sixty-one years old. It had been her fight, now was her triumph, 
and was to be for a score more years her unending, never slacking 
challenge of leadership. 

But on that March day she wrote, “So it was done. ... I had 
waited so long and got so weak and broken I could not even feel 
glad.” And she added that she used a wet towel to “wipe off the sad- 
ness and tears.” 

On July 26, President Arthur formally proclaimed the adherence 
of the United States to the Treaty of Geneva. The story won only 
routine and slight treatment in the press. It even seems to have been 
an anticlimax for Clara Barton, who by then had gone to her house 
at Dansville, New York. She had purchased this house in 1876, and 
occupied it intermittently until 1884. It was her legal residence during 
these years. 


What sort of woman had won this triumph? The following description 
was written by Dr. William E. Barton, Clara’s cousin and biographer; 

Ladylike, sympathetic, energetic, and marvellously forceful 
. . . still patient, still persistent, rising at 4 or 5 o'clock in the 
morning and working until late at night, living with such sim- 
plicity of life that no soldier ever lived upon a smaller ration or 
slept upon a narrower or simpler bed than that upon which she 
slept night after night, always with a light at the head of her bed 
where she might, as thoughts came to her in the night, write down 
those thoughts. 

The “sadness and tears” expressed the normal emotional reaction 
of a highly charged and almost indomitable character. But they also 
typified to a degree that even Miss Barton could not see at that time 
the host of contradictions that were to plague the Red Cross for the 
rest of her life and long after she had passed from the scene. In fact, 
a perspective viewpoint of the Red Cross must take note of the con- 
tradictions both in views and personalities in order to permit any sort 
of clear picture of this unique organization. 



The most mistaken concept that has hounded the Red Cross 
throughout its lifetime is the impression that it is an organization 
definitely established to do a few well-outlined chores under the di- 
rection of undeviating rules represented by a fixed organization. It is 
nothing of the kmd. 

The Red Cros‘; —yesterday, today and probably tomorrow — suggests 
to the outside observer a combination of the characteristics that are 
found alike in a militant new church organization, a welfare movement 
founded on revolutionary ideals, and a thoroughbred horse. It suggests 
a new religious organization in the ideals which constitute its guiding 
principles. The parallel with the reform movement has occurred time 
and again in conflicts of viewpoints between equally dedicated bat 
widely differing personalities. Like a thoroughbred horse, it has had 
periods when it has run excellent races but left its backers wondering 
why, for no accountable reason, it has fallen so low in the handi- 
cappers’ books. 

When Congress ratified the international treaty governing the Red 
Cross there actually was no clear definition anywhere in the world 
of what the treaty meant, or any physical oiganization remotely sug- 
gestive of the Red Cross as it exists in the United States today. It is 
equally true, and hardly at all understood, that the American Red Cross 
as it exists more than scventy-se\en years later, shares little more 
with so-called Sister Societies throughout the world than it did in 1882 
— a common devotion o iucals. 

The American Red Cross today is completely American and n ore 
national in its activities than i is international. At the same time the 
differences distinguishing it from the 80-odd other national Red Cros.s 
Societies are essentially the source of its strength and a powerful lever 
in those fields where the American ideal exerts a sort of leadership in 
world thinking. 

Here is the peculiar aspect I ' n extraordinary situation for which 
it would be difficult to find a parallel. 

The very differences from other Red Cross Societies that mark the 
American Red Cross stem directly and in very slightly changed form 
from the original cljectives set down by Miss Barton. If the diminu- 
tive leader did not have the gift of prescience, she most assuredly had 
the imagination to develop a long-range public relations program that 
is the goal which modern practitioners of that art might well copy. 



The international conception of the Red Cross in 1882 was based 
on the introduction of a few humane rules into warfare — rules inci- 
dentally that have literally gone up in smoke in an era of saturation 
bombing of cities. The Barton thesis was that, to be worth anything 
in time of war, the Red Cross Societies should train specialists and 
volunteers by means of practice in handling natural disasters in time 
of peace. And that is what the Red Cross has done. 

Nevertheless, a year after the chartering of the first American Red 
Cross Society, M. Moynier felt it necessary to set the record straight 
in order that the European Red Cross Societies should not be em- 
barrassed by the American upstart. 

Bowing deeply to the proud, aristocratic ruling powers of Europe, 
he wrote that of course the national Red Cross organizations should be 
“essentially an auxiliary of their respective armies.” He gave a firm 
but friendly slap to the American group, writing that, “To use a flag 
which has a legal significance determined by the Convention of Geneva 
for undertakings of a different character from those for which it was 
intended is undoubtedly wrong.” 

It just so happened that it was Moynier himself who was out of step. 

Already various Red Cross Societies in Eastern Europe were ex- 
tending aid to victims of famines, epidemics, fires, earthquakes and 
other disasters. In England, v'here the Red Cross still is primarily a 
wartime organization, the true counterpart of the American Red Cross, 
called the St. John’s Ambulance Society, had established by 1 877 an 
extensive system of instruction on first aid to the injured. And in 1 882, 
the American Red Cross and the German Red Cross each followed 

In September, 1884, at Geneva, Switzerland, at a meeting of the 
International Red Cross Committee, Miss Barton watched the Ameri- 
can interpretation of the true meaning of the Red Cross triumph over 
the interpretations of the Western European powers. The open-hearted 
faction of the Red Cross tore to pieces the legalistic dictum written 
by Moynier only a year before. 

The Red Cross became a truly humanitarian symbol — as yet glow- 
ing only faintly — but inextinguishable even at the hands of govern- 
ments who saw a threat to power in any encouragement of the dignity 
of the individual. 

In the United States any calamity large enough to be considered 



national — too big to be handled by local resources — ^was and is the 
concern of the Red Cross. And for that matter, international calami- 
ties — famine, plague, floods, earthquakes. 


In summarizing first steps as a prelude to chronicling the impressive 
history of the modern American National Red Cross we cannot over- 
look the garden in which the plant bloomed. The soil was a new atti- 
tude, intangible but growing; there also were gardeners. 

The Red Cross symbolized a striking new conception of n«an’s 
relationship to man that was slowly awalcening in the western worM 
and — ^we like to think — ^moving at a faster pace in the United Slates 
than elsewhere. 

The Red Cross movement cannot be separated from the growing 
enlightenment of modern man, any more than that enlightenment can 
be separated from the evolution of factors that raised standards of liv- 
ing. It IS perhaps true that most persons are good at heart, but the comes through a lot mere easily when the heart is in a well- 
fed body, and when the body represents a mind that feels reasonably 
contented and secure. 

Miss Barton and her leadership came into the picture under the Red 
Cross as tangible evidence and form of the spirit which already was 
growing on every sid- S! e was equally as ncccssaiy as the public 
spirit, because otherwise the recognition that all persons struck by dis- 
aster deserve the assistance of a ’ others would have had no expression. 
But too often in detailing the histories oi movements the great works 
themselves are perverted in their own greatness by enthusiastic efforts 
to prove that somehow they grew as freaks of individuality in a barren 

If there is one thing from wh^ the Red Cross has suffered through 
the past hall century, it has been overglorification. There has been loo 
much effort, both within the organization by its friends and outside of 
it by its critics, to make it unique, a thing apart from ordinary things, 
a kind of godlike be* .I5 that all alone is able to sweep down upon dis- 
aster-stricken peoples and make all things right for them. Of course, it 
cannot, and does not so claim. 

If that seems to be an individual opinion — and it is one that many 



persons will say is unfair — I cite as my witnesses the leading figures in 
the organization who time after time have seen the greatest relief and 
rehabilitation jobs undertaken by the Red Cross followed by the 
stormiest criticism of the organization. On such a basis has been laid a 
blanket of unfair criticism and unfounded rumors ranging from dis- 
honesty to favoritism to stupidity. 

The Red Cross today, and the Red Cross in the 1 890’s, is and was 
no more and no less than the sum of its environment. Its leadership 
always has been the equal of the best leadership in other humane and 
public developments; its weaknesses organizaHonally and administra- 
tively have been about average. 

Much credit goes to the Red Cross for the integrity of that leader- 
ship in moral and financial honesty, for its record is virtually perfect. 
But remember that neither have there been financial scandals involving 
sister organizations of great stature that sprang up coincident with it 
— the Salvation Army (British), the Ys, the Boy Scouts and Girl 
Guides (British), and more localized movements such as Hull House 
in Chicago and comparable settlement houses in other metropolitan 

When Miss Barton assumed leadership of the American Red Cross 
movement she had to fight for the technicalities involving recognition 
of the idea as an international symbol and force, but not for support 
of the work the Red Cross was designed to do, in so far as its first 
limited steps led it. 

Americans were ready for the idea, by whatever name. They were 
ready for so many things, and free economically to express their hearts 
by contributing their resources to victims of all kinds of troubles that 
slowly were impressing man’s consciousness as not the inevitable fate 
of the luckless few. 

This was a period marked by major development of large hospitals 
in the cities for the free care of the sick who otherwise had been left 
to die in their misery. For the first time municipal groups were or- 
ganizing on a permanent basis volunteers for care of the aged and 
indigent. Long looks were being taken at city slums by outraged civic 
leaders. The emancipation of women was becoming a burning issue. 

Orphanages — ^however gruesome some of the century-old ones seem 
in retrospect — ^were becoming commonplace as refuges for children 
who earlier had lived cast-oflf lives and died in alleys. The United 



States was just beginning a fantastic growth in church membership 
coincident with the development of church programs planned to make 
them neighborhood centers as well as places of worship for their con- 

In this chronicle there will be many citations of “firsts” reoorded by 
the Red Cross in community, humane and welfare activities. But none 
would have been possible except for acceptance, support and financing 
by the communities themselves. 

This all represented a whole new concept of community life, the 
bringing together of whole communities as groups, and knitting com- 
munities into larger families. The county or the town was ceasing to 
be the shell within which individuals must live or die — and too often 
die within a cell within a county or city, unregarded and unattended. 

In any great disaster — flood, earthquake, fire — which hits with 
dramatic impact, there are four steps to meet the needs of the stricken. 
The first is an immediate mustering of the resourpes available among 
the victims themselves of housing, food and medical care for those 
surviving the blow. This is personal emergency relief. Second, within 
hours this is supplemented by aids from the surrounding countryside, 
which usually suflice. 

But two greater steps which move more slowly then must be taken. 
One is restoration of public services, such as roads, schools and utili- 
ties. These are by far the most expensive elements of rehabilitation and 
are properly the charge of governments, both .state and federal. Since 
they involve great sums of money they overshadow all other costs and 
win the headlines. But they leave out one essential feature. 

Public funds, aside from such relief as may be given while the 
ground is yet wet from receding floods, go to restore things for all the 
public. The rehabilitation of people is traditionally, in the United 
States, the job of private agencies. That was true before the Red Cross 
was founded. It is true today. 


Now let us turn from the soil in which the Red Cross took root to the 
flowers — a few individuals who cultivated that soil and created the 
works that were the Red Cross flowers. 

Here we see most clearly Miss Barton as chief of staff and drill- 



master, as well as her own and the Red Cross’s only recruiter. While 
seizing with one hand every chance to obtain the best possible publicity 
through activities, she demonstrated extraordinary capacity to bring 
into her circle extremely skilled and oftentimes brilliant men from the 
business and professional fields. And it is worth noting that this self- 
acknowledged homely and unprepossessing lady, already past middle 
age, held the continuing loyalty of her male associates over long peri- 
ods of years. 

The publicist and the politician, who had been such valuable allies 
in the special efforts to obtain recognition fo/ the Red Cross, were 
supplanted immediately after its founding by the new types the Red 
Cross needed. Among them were doctors, lawyers and businessmen, 
and each, whatever his primary interest, proved to be a superb 

It might be suggested that only a natural-born diplomat could sur- 
vive the pace set for her lieutenants by Miss Barton’s own example. 
And it is well worth remarking that while many women became active 
in the Red Cross even in the early days, the positions of leadership 
all were held by men. 

Take Dr. Julian Hubbell as a prime example. Dr. Hubbell first came 
into the Red Cross in 1881 when he .served as Red Cross agent at the 
time of the Michigan forest fires, the first relief operation into which 
the new organization threw its meager resources. Hubbell was a stu- 
dent volunteer from the University of Michigan, where he was study- 
ing chemistry. 

Miss Barton advised him, upon return to his studies, to switch to 
medicine. He did. In the twenty years thereafter, during which Miss 
Barton headed her little flying wedge of relief groups, Dr. Hubbell was 
always present and on the job with the Red Cross. Dr. Hubbell lived 
to inherit Miss Barton’s Washington house. 

In her last days, the giant bearded doctor watched over the aged 
little woman, tended her garden, made jellies in her kitchen — all the 
while as a world-known figure he directed development of the medical 
resources of the Red Cross. 

Dr. Hubbell was far more than a dedicated volunteer medical man 
serving the Red Cross. In 1 884 he accompanied Miss Barton to Geneva 
as her personal physician, and turned out to be the principal reporter 
of activities of the American delegation. Dr. Hubbell gave the name of 

first steps 


“The American Amendment” to the enlarged concept of the Red Cross 
conceived by Miss Barton. He worked alongside the official American 
delegate to that conference. Judge Joseph Sheldon of New Haven, 

Judge Sheldon, who in 1890 became a vice president of the Red 
Cross, was already marked as one of the most brilliant delineators of 
the Red Cross idea. He was a militant standard-bearer for the conten- 
tion that the Red should operate as a continuing society to 
relieve and mitigate the effects of disaster in peacetime as well as war. 

Judge Sheldon met and reputedly had a romantic interest in Clara 
Barton when both were young. Later he married one of her closest 
friends, Abby Barker. For fifty years the Sheldons and Miss Barton 
were an inseparable trio. 

Judge Sheldon had not written the original charter of the Red Cross, 
approved by the District of Columbia in 1881. This was the work of 
Stephen Barton, Clara Barton's nephew, who served as her aide 
throughout her entire Red Cross career. However. Judge Sheldon re- 
fined and revised Stephen Barton’s original manuscript in the form of a 
bill for submission to Congress in 1 890 when it again was hoped that 
the Red Cross could obtain a national charter. The effort to obtain that 
charter was to be frustrated for another decade but Judge Sheldon's 
work in 1 890 resulted in the classical description of the Red Cross still 
embodied in today’s legal authorization. 

As a third and fully equal partner of Hubbell and Sheldon among 
Miss Barton’s dedicated aides, was Dr. Joseph Gardner, former col- 
lege classmate and lifelong friend of President Benjamin Harrison. 

Dr. Gardner also entered the Red Cross circle by marriage. When he 
married Enola Lee, Miss Barton’s first notable e.xpert in handling dis- 
tribution of supplies at disasters, he fell intf* a pattern that still holds 
today — the devoted husband first helping his wife in Red Cross work 
and afterward awakening to the fact that he has adopted a second 

Dr. Gardner and Judge Sheldon joined forces in 1 893 to head off 
another European organization, calling itself “The Good Samaritan 
Union” whose backers proposed to organize a world-wide society to 
provide relief in cases of natural disaster unconnected with war. Such 
a program would have cut the ground from under all of the plans to 



mate tbc American Red Cross a vital, continuing organization instead 

of simply an adjunct to armies in time of war. 

Here was a perfect example of the teamwork — and political acumen 

by which the founding group of the American Red Cross swung 

into action on the diplomatic level: 

On August 22, 1 893, Miss Barton publicly rejected the idea of the 
Good Samaritan Union as an organization separate from Red Cross, 
emphasizing twelve years of prior activity by the American society 
in this field. Within twenty-four hours Dr. Gardner wrote to M. Moy- 
nier urging immediate adoption of “The Ameacan Amendment,” and 
Miss Barton followed up Gardner’s formal appeal with a personal letter 
to Moynier. Judge Sheldon composed within a few days the official 
protest of the American Red Cross Society, citing all possible argu- 
ments of law and priority in the relief field as judicial reasons for 
squelching the competing movement. That was the end of the Good 

As one other example of the type of volunteers Miss Barton mus- 
tered to her cause we see constantly recurring a tall, shrewd and ret- 
icent figure — George Pullman, wealthy, vigorous and distinguished 
nephew of the founder of the Pullman Company, who handled the 
business organization behind Red Cross relief operations that already 
were assuming very large proport'ons in relation to the money values 
of the eighteen-eighties and -nineties. 

George Pullman was a different sort of friend from Hubbell, Sheldon 
and Gardner. Less a personal disciple of Clara Barton, he was at the 
same time more illustrative of the foundations she had laid in what 
seemed such a long time ago. There always lingered a bit of the shadow 
of President Lincoln’s close friendship in Miss Barton’s prestige and 
among her resources. 

President Lincoln’s regard for her was inherited by Tad Lincoln, his 
son. Tad had become a successful partner in the Pullman Company. 
Ihere his closest friend was George Pullman and he brought his two 
friends together or, more precisely, placed George Pullman under Clara 
Barton’s spell. 


Yet even with such support as this, what was Clara Barton’s Red Cross 



It was little more than the name adopted by a handful of persons, 
incorporated as a group in the District of Columbia, and not even dig- 
nified by Congressional recognition. 

It was true that they sometimes got lots of publicity, but always 
connected with disasters. Newspaper headlines were generous in praise 
of Red Cross work in times of extraordinary occurrences such as the 
Ohio River flood in 1884 and the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, da^-burst- 
iug deluge in 1889. However, between whiles the organization con- 
sisted of little more than Miss Barton’s own self and three or four 
clerks crowded together in one room. 

This meant no slackening of interest among the family of aides 
r numerated above, but — like their volunteer counterparts today — 
these notable volunteers must spend the major share of their time at- 
tending to business, practicing their professions, earning a living. 

Directors of services who maintain continuity in organization and 
training must be permanently employed, paid staff members; there 
must be a liaison office to handle communications between other co- 
operating groups. Someone must collect money, disburse it and account 
for it. At the very minimum this requires organization — paid organiza- 

No such organization existed, except in one regard. It all perforce 
had to be in the person of Clara Barton, the unpaid Number 1 Volun- 
teer who in her extreme old age would have to defend herself — and 
successfully — against chaiges that all the while she had profited from 
the Red Cross. More of that later. 

There developed early several Red Cross Societies, in the wake of 
disaster relief work. The first was a tiny, devoted group in Dansville, 
Miss Barton’s home — the first formed outside of Washington. This 
growth of chapters parallel with disaster work is told later. Here per- 
spective requires some grouping of legal problems that would con- 
tinue for years in the future. 

Tliis Red Cross organization was, and could be, no more than a 
loose aiisociation of organizations lacking a common charter. Only 
one, the Washington group, was covered by the International Red 
Cross Convention and recognized as part of the world movement. 

Judge Sheldon’s classic concept of a federal charter was introduced 
in Congress in 1890. It simply lay in a pigeonhole. Three years later 
the measure was recognized as dead. The concept of the Red Cross as 



the thing for which the Barton coterie had fought seemed to be dead 
for all time. In a moment of despondency Clara Barton wrote its epi- 
taph on her copy of the bill ; 

“It has no changes, no criticisms and has no assurances and little 
hope of a future existence." 

The temporary depression in hopes for a national charter did not 
last long. There must be a new strategy. If the Red Cross was dead as 
a recognized national agency it still must survive in some form. Miss 
Barton turned to an effort to obtain some form of legalization that 
would remove the taint of bastardy, through ti e local government of 
the District of Columbia. She reincorporated the Red Cross under a 
name to which it had not the slightest current right — The American 
National Red Cross. 

Here was a transparent attempt to use the power of suggestion to 
give to the Red Cross the national status that it scctned to have no 
hope of getting in fact, to claim it for what it was not as a means of 
working on the public mind. 

There were, however, other things that justified in fact, if not in all 
ethical practice, this grandiose assumption. These things were acts. 
And who could fairly quarrel with that? 

By 1900, when the Congressional charter that seemed so distant 
in 1893 was suddenly won, there was no quarrel. 

+ + + + + 

On the Job— 
When Disaster Strikes 


If ITH ITS FIRST little chaftcf tucked under its belt, the miniscule 
Red Cross faced three alternative directions in which it might travel. 
It could be a paper organization crowning with prestige the sixty-year- 
old Clara Barton, who had at last reduced its ideals to some form of 
recognition in the Capitol of the United States. It could build up a 
long list of leading “names” graciously awaiting calls upon it for 
assistance. Or it could become an aggressive agent of mercy going out 
and meeting disasters face to face, seeking out need for the services 
it proposed to offer. 

There never was doubt for a moment as to the course the Red Cross 
would take under the leadership of Clara Barton. Old she might be 
by the standards of her day, a part-time invalid subject to fits of de- 
pression and exhaustion that often held her in tight grasp, but she 
was not one to head idly an idle organization. Whatever the peculi- 
arities of her tenacious battles, they always were on the side of ac- 
tivity, never organization for organization's sake. 

In the fall of 1881, the first big challenge to prove whether the new 
Red Cross organization was designed for action or for paper planning 
came into being. That challenge came with the outbreak of fire in the 
forests of northern Michigan that wiped out countless settlements and 
villages and destroyed the homes of hundreds of families. 

Dr. Hubbell’s report to Clara prompted her to write in her first 




appeal on behalf of the Red Cross relief work that, “there is no food 
left in its track for a rabbit to eat and, indeed, no rabbit to eat it, if 
there were.” 

The description, it is true, was on the melodramatic side. But con- 
sider the time and the setting. Red headquarters was the place 
where Clara Barton happened to hang her hat, not some imposing 
headquarters with national and regional oflices and staff. In this in- 
stance, the “headquarters” was not even in the national capital, but 
at Dansville, where Clara was spending some time. 

At Dansville, Clara had the nucleus of a branch chapter organiza- 
tion, and she had pioneered chapter operations in the larger cities of 
Rochester and Syracuse. These just about accounted for the Red Cross 
in 1881, outside of the handful of Washington friends, although one 
should not discount the powerful press and other individuals who stood 
ready to rally to any cause espoused by Clara Barton. 

Small as was the organization, Clara ran up the Red Cross flag 
for the first time over her Dansville home, to mark it as the disaster 
headquarters of the Red for the Michigan relief operation. And 
before she had finished her organization campaign she had in hand 
$80,000 in donations, either cash or provisions, to be dispensed 
through the field organization set up by Julian Hubbell. This was not 
a great sum compared with almost $900,000 dispensed by local com- 
mittees in Port Huron and Detroit, but the Red Cross operation 
established two precedents that were to stick. 

One was that here existed, for the first time, an organization ready 
and able to raise and dispense relief funds on a responsible basis, acting 
as liaison between the sources of contributions — however far removed 
from the immediate scene of disaster — and without regard to social or 
economic barriers. 

The other was more important and far more basic in laying the 
groundwork for the long-range American operations of the Red Cross. 
The key word in the new development — and mark it carefully for 
the future — was rehabilitation. 

Only sketchily defined — in fact never yet clearly so in technical and 
legal terms — rehabilitation is the greater part of the Red Cross work 
today. When disaster strikes, whether in the form of weather or man’s 
more bestial side, there always are responses in some degree of aid 
donated at the moment by shocked and sympathetic onlookers. And 



government agencies move to restore public works such as schools, 
roads and the like. 

However, every disaster leaves dangling on the end of the line, long 
after the waters have receded or the first-aid and field-kitchen groups 
have departed, the families that face hopelessly ruined futures if left 
to their own resources. 

A program for these few but forgotten ones — as far as nationally 
mu'tercd aid is concerned — was part of the original American Red 
Cross meaning given to rehabilitation. Definitions and practices under 
that word would be debated for decades, but the act became a fact of 
operations from the start. 

This was part and parcel of the same philosophy that broke the 
American Red Cross away from the original European conception, and 
that made the Red Cross great in the United States from the start. 

In developing this procedure, the Michigan forest fires and a rela- 
tively .small Hood on the Ohio River in 1882 were in effect practice 
scssion.s — practice in developing rehabilitation techniques, in making 
appeals lor funds, and in doing the Red Cross job in a manner to 
win future support for its appeals. Out of first steps grew the 
hard core of the first Red Cross organization, directed by Clara Barton 
and her loyal lieutenant. Dr. Hubbcll. 

Orgam/ationwise, the Red would remain virtually unchanged 
for the ne.\t fifteen or more years, but circumstances would seem to 
have been almost arbitrarily arranged to shape its character despite it* 
organizational limitations. 

When disaster struck, action would be signaled by as simple a thing 
as Clara Barton w'iring the Associated Press and a few of the leading 
newspapers that the Red Cross would accept and distribute contribu- 
tions. A typical message to the As.sociated Press that touched off a 
national flood of gifts was stated as simply as this: “Everything is 
needed; everything is welcome.” 

In such ways, based on constantly grow'ing integrity, the Red Cross 
was to raise and distribute an estimated more than $2,000,000 worth 
of relief and rehabilitation supplies— about 90 per cent of the value 
in goods and only 1 0 per cent in ca,sh — in the regime of Clara Barton. 

How was this done? 

The answer is best described in a few high lights, domestic and 
foreign, of work done in the years prior to the Spanish American 



War, which itself served to set a precedent for activities by the Red 
Cross in wartime, under the formalized rules already established by 
the International Red Cross. 

The roll caU of peacetime work in the nineteenth century, and the 
gradual development of the meaning of the American Red Cross, runs 
through such occurrences at home as the Ohio-Mississippi flood of 
1884 that made 7,000 families homeless, the Johnstown flood in 1889 
and the Sea Island hurricane in 1893. For foreign action side lights, 
the record embraces a famine in Russia in 1892 and special relief 
distributed in Armenia, personally directed oy Clara Barton, in 1 896. 

And between times we see Miss Barton, with the ever present Judge 
Sheldon and the ubiquitous Dr. Hubbcll walking across the interna- 
tional stage, bernedaled and beribboned, at international conventions 
of the Red Cross, first at Geneva in 1884, then at Baden-Baden in 
1887, and at Vienna in 1897. 


On February 15, 1884, telegraph wires carried the news that the Ohio 
River in full flood had crested seventy feet at Cincinnati, and that this 
upsurge of angry waters was covering not only the city’s streets and 
adjacent lowlands but building up into record proportions as it broiled 
down through the plains and on into the Mississippi. 

Clara Barton, with Dr. Hubbell and her little crew of helpers, issued 
an appeal for Red Cross contributions, and started to the Ohio Valley. 
She reached Cincinnati coincident with military relief forces dispatched 
to the area by the government. Thereupon, the Red Cross set about 
its first major task in which it demonstrated what it could do without 
duplicating official relief work and what it could do that was not 
provided by government. 

In this emergency, while the federal government distributed $500,- 
000 in relief supplies, the Red Cross raised and distributed supplies 
accounted as worth $175,000. The government provided tents, blan- 
kets, army rations and $50,000 cash. The Red Cross supplemented 
these with fuel and clothing, set a precedent by distributing food for be- 
leaguered farm livestock, and wound up in the task of home rebuilding 
and individualized “helping people get back on their feet.” No longer 



would a question be asked as to the place of the Red Cross in disaster 

Miss Barton looked around Cincinnati and “the surging river like 
a devouring monster” swirling through the city. She wrote that “bank- 
ers and merchants stood in its relief houses and fed the hungry popu- 
lace. and men and women were out in boats passing baskets of food 
to pale, trembling hands stretched out to reach it from the third story 
windows of the stately blocks and warehouses of that beautiful city.” 

The Red Cross group asked itself: since this was the condition in 
an organized city, what was transpiring through the long reaches of 
the low country, in the flooded villages and on the farms abutting the 
orc'Mtarily placid waters? And they realized that there was only one 
sure way to find out. 

Already supplies were coming into Cincinnati to a warehouse rented 
by the Red Cross and into another storage depot at Evansville, Indi- 
ana. These would go down the river. Miss Barton h'^^’^elf chartered at 
Evansville a small steamer, the Josh V. Throop, loaded it to capacity 
with coal, clothing and other provisions, .and headed downstream. 

With the Red Cross flag flying from its jackstaff. the Josh V. Throop 
made its way to Cairo, Illinois, and back to Evansville, while the 
weather turned back from the warmth that had caused the flood to 
freezing cold. Wherever there was isclaicd need, the Red Cross sup- 
plied what help it could, and with the help it gave impetus to coopera- 
tive relief. 

Here was another important precedent, this cooperation. On this 
relief venture Miss Barton added to iier staff volunteer members from 
other organizations and f'l'ientimes turned over to local groups supplies 
from the warehouses in Cincinnati and Evansville. There was no ques- 
ticni of pride as to the dispensing hand. And time was taken, too. to 
organize in the midst of the llotsam impromptu new Red Cross 

Without such organization any Red Cross aid would have been 
surely localized to a few cities; by its means, it spanned thousands of 
miles. In fact, after the initial work, as the flood w'aters raged down 
the Mississippi, broaching dikes and shifting the ordinarily turgid 
river’s channel by many miles. Miss Barton repeated the water convoy 
program by chartering in St. Lotiis the steamer Mattie Belle. She 
loaded this ship, from the mountain of contributed supplies, with cloth- 



ing, medicine and food for humans, and also with hay, oats and corn 
for livestock, and journeyed all the way to New Orleans and back 

And when the waters had gone back to normal, the dead had been 
buried, and the immediate needs of the victims fulfilled, the Red Cross 
workers — again chartering the Josh V. Throop — set out to help wher- 
ever possible to mend the lives of families and individuals among the 
otherwise forsaken poor in the rural reaches of the river country. 

This first flood-relief venture took the Red Cross into Clara Barton’s 
dream of community cooperation — of “people helping people” in con- 
trast to an organization impersonally doling out aid — the pattern for 
future chapter operations. 

As an example; six boys and girls in Waterford, Pennsylvania, gave 
a public entertainment for the benefit of the flood sufferers. They 
raised $51.25, which they turned over to the Eric Dispatch. This news- 
paper dubbed them the “Little Six” and sent along the money, which 
Miss Barton promised to give to a specially worthy recipient. At a 
.spot on the Illinois side of the Ohio River known as Cave-in-Rock she 
found the proper place for this money. There, in a corncrib, lived a 
Mrs. Plew, with her six children. Her husband and home had been 
lost in the flood. Clara v adod through deep muck to visit Mrs. Plow, 
and reported that she found “misfortune, sorrow, want, loneliness, 
dread of future, but fortitude, courage, integrity and thrift.” She 
presented the “Little Six” gilt with enough extra to make the contri- 
bution an even $100. When Clara next steamed by Cave-in-Rock, .she 
saw a new house for the Plcws going up, and on the bank a board 
with the inscription, “Little Six Red C’ross Landing.” 

The work went on until June, before Miss Barton, having dispensed 
all the contributions over a path of 1,500 miles, hauled dt)wn the Red 
Cross flags and left the river country in its budding clothes of spring. 

Neither she nor her co-workers probably realized what had been 
aceomplished in demonstrating the national spirit without which the 
Red Cross could not have flowered. Something of it was expressed by 
an editorial in the Chicago Inter Ocean, in March, 1884: 

There is no doubt that the day is not far di.stant — if it has not 
already come — when the American people will recognize the Red 
Cross as one of the wisest and best systems of philanthropic work 



in modern times. Its work does not stop with the alleviation of 
bodily suffering and the clothing of the destitute — blessed as that 
work is when wisely done so as not to break down the manly 
spirit of self help. The Red Cross has become a grand educator, 
embodying the best principles of social science, and that true 
spirit of charity which counts it a privilege to serve one’s fellow 
man in time of trouble. The supplying of material wants — of 
food, raiment and shelter, is only a small part of its ministry. 

It was small wonder that Clara Barton’s friends felt that she had 
capped her career with this work, and perhaps thought it wise to hasten 
tributes to her if she were to hear them in her lifetime. She had traveled 
8,v>00 miles in this great venture, personally supervised the allocation 
of all relief supplies passing through Red C’ross channels and with her 
own hand written ael.nowledgments of all contributions. Nov. she was 
tired and ill, but her old friend, Secretary of State Frederick T. Freling- 
huysen knew the medicine that would do Clara Barton the most good 
- -activity, not rest. 

Before Clara Barton returned to Washington, a mc.ssage had already 
arrived inviting the new American Red Cross Society to send a dele- 
gate to Geneva to the first quadrennial International Red Cross Con- 
ference to be held after ratification of the Geneva Treaty by the 
American government. Clara Barton put on her formal attire to call 
on tile Secretary of State and a^k him to name a delegate. 

Secretary Frelinghuysen said there was none other to be appointed 
than herself, but Clara Barton protested that she was both tired and ill. 

“That's because you have had too much fresh watci. Miss Barton,” 
the Secretary of State told her. “1 recommend salt, and shall appoint 

Of the prescription of salt water, more little later. At this point 
it can be reported that Clara Barton made a full recovery on the .spot. 

After the Hood episode of 1884, the Red Cross — while without 
organization, national status or even a set of books — was definitely 
in business, or in whatever it chose to make its business, the record 
would indicate. In 1885 Miss Barton went to Texas to visit regions 
hit by a severe drought, but decided that local resources were suffi- 
cient to handle the situation. In 1886 she visited Jacksonville, Florida, 
where the Red Cross cooperated with the Howard Association in 



coiTibflting fl scourge of yellow fever und uctivtly recruiting nurses for 
this work. But this was not the sa'ue pattern of high and glorified 
activity. A scandal aroused by reports of the behavior of some of 
the nurses, whether justified or not, douded for the first time a major 
work in which the Red Cross injected ,tsclf. 

When word of this epidemic rcatlied Washington, Miss Bart<.n 
assigned relief organization to T. R. Southmayd, secretary of the Red 
Cross at New Orleans and a former colonel in the C'onfederatc Ann\ 
who had lost an arm at Shiloh. Colonel Southmayd reeriiiled about 
thirty nurses — some white and some Negro — uho by previous c.xpcn- 
ence hud indicated immunity to the disease. 

Most of the nurses were sent into Jacksonville, despite resentment 
expressed by the locai medical group, ft is not clear whether objections 
were raised because of the color question or otherwise. The official 
complaint was that the nurses were “intemperate,” which in Victorian 
English could cover a lot of ground. And it is true that in this early 
period of nursing the profession embraced many women seeking ad- 
venture as well as the trained, dignified and dedicated young women 
who were the forerunners of today's nurses. 

At Jacksonville the Red Cross learned two lessons it still remembers; 

(1) never attempt to give relief anywhere it is not welcomed: and 

(2) use the greatest possible care in selecting personnel. 

On the other side of the coin, the Jacksonville epidemic provided 
a baptism in Red Cross service for a young woman, fresh from nurse's 
training in the North, who would later win a place among unforget- 
table humanitarians in professional Red Cross service. Along with the 
alleged intemperates and the others at Jacksonville was Jane Delano. 

Rehabilitation of the Red Cross prestige needed to await, however, 
only another major opportunity, and this came in the form of the 
Johnstown flood. In 1 889 swollen waters burst a dam above the little 
city of 30,000 persons and within minutes the community was all but 
wiped out. 

The flood struck on June 1. Eventual statistics would show that 
2,142 persons were drowned in its onslaught, but for the survivors the 
picking up of the pieces of their lives was as much a tragedy as the 

Five days after the waters swept over the town. Miss Barton arrived 
on the scene with Dr. Hubbell and a small staff. The Red Cross appeal 



for relief funds and materials already had been nationally broadcast. 
The Red Cross mission remained for five months, distributing relief 
in kind estimated at a value of $200,000 and $39,000 in cash, in- 
cluding for the first time salaries for clerical workers hired to assis' 
with the business of the Red Cross on a relief mission. 

To keep the Red Cross work in perspective, it should be noted that 
in the same period the Johnstown Flood Relief Commission disbursed 
$1,600,000, but there was no conflict. There was, however, a strange 
echo that was to arise in later years to haunt Miss Barton and her 

As part of the Red Cross work, barracks were built to house tem- 
porarily displaced families. When homes were rebuilt, the Red Cross 
planned to dismantle the barracks and sell the lumber Protests by 
local merchants agamst .such “unfair c'ompcti*^ion” requ’red disposal 
of the lumber el.sewhcrc. 

The final decision, made by Clara Barton, saw .he lumber shipped 
to Washington where it was used in the eonstructiem in suburban 
Glen Echo of a headquarters foi the Red (.’ross, including a personal 
home for herself. 

It would he eight years bclbrc the elderly w'onian w'ould close her 
town in Washington and occupy Glen Echo as her c.^clusivc 
residence, but henccfortii the grave que.stion would be raised repeat- 
edly as to whether the organization could be used as a private preserve 
for Miss Barton's comfort id convenience. Oddly enough, there was 
no hint of such a question from the contributors to the Red Cross. 
The issue was to be raised internal. y, and to become part of such a 
feud that even today its reverberations are heard and felt. 

But the little whirlwinds that were to mount into a tempest of con- 
troversy seemed all but submerged in more dramatic events. 

As one more example on the home side, titcrc was a hurricane that 
freakishly swept across Sea Island ofl’ the coast of South Carolina in 
1 893 — a region thickly populated by 30,000 persons, of whom thou- 
sands perished and the survivors lost houses, livestock and tools. Al- 
most all were Negroes. 

Here was a new problem in relief work, and dramatic indication 
of what the Red Cross was beginning to mean. Miss Barton personally 
felt that the task was too great to be handled by her organization. But 
no other group of organizations came forward to lend a hand. Presi- 



dent Grover S. Cleveland and Governor Benjamin P. Tillman of South 
Carolina joined in a personal appeal to the Red Cross to do the job. 

The Red Cross was on the job at Sea Island for ten months — 
months of hard work, of virtually training ignorant and frightened 
persons how to mend their shattered lives, of appeals to the outer 
world for such simple things as any sort of castoff clothes, and even 
for hoes with which to cultivate gardens. 

The job was dramatic in retrospect but it was not one that aroused 
great public sympathy. At one point Miss Barton wrote: “I cannot 
talk, cannot sleep.” But she pulled up her res trves of sheer personal 
force and wrote again, “We shall stand in this great work by ourselves, 
with no help, no funds back of us, and no one to create them. It is 
a perilous situation. If we fail, we are lost.” 

But the Red Cross did not fail, and its humane reputation was en- 
hanced. When Joel Chandler Harris visited the scene to write about 
it for Scribner’s Maf’azJtie, he recorded: “There are no exhibitions of 
self-importance. There is no display, no tortuous cross-examination 
of applicants — no needless delay. The perfection of its machinery is 
shown by the apparent absence of machinery.” 


In the year that Clara Barton became seventy-one years of age, the 
Red Cross had thrust upon it an international operation ciuite distinct 
from the role anticipated in the Geneva Convention. Not war but 
famine raised the curtain on this phase of its work, and the impetus 
came — of all places — from the so-called isolated and nationalistic sec- 
tion of the United Slates, the agricultural Middle West. 

The voice of America demanded that the Red Cross act as agent 
in a humane gesture toward alleviating in some degree the effects of 
a famine of historic proportions that .swept over Russia. 

Foster Rhea Dulles, the noted historian, writing the hi.story of the 
Red Cross in carefully documented form, ascribed this outburst of 
sentiment to the feeling that Russia — then as now a political enigma 
but not considered a threat to the Western world — had been a true 
friend of the Union in the Civil War. Russia had sent its Fleet on a 
visit to New York at a crucial point when it was feared that Great 
Britain and France would recognize the Confederacy, and perhaps 



helped to stop such action with the threat of world conflict if European 
powers meddled in the American dispute. 

In any event, when the farmers of Iowa, Wisconsin and adjoining 
states read of the plight of Russian peasants trading their possessions 
for bits of food, and burning the thatched roofs of their cottages for 
fuel, their hearts were aroused. 

When Miss Barton agreed to accept the call on the Red Cross, Iowa 
growers dispatched an initial shipment of 225 carloads of corn to 
New York, in care of the Red Cross. This was only the first of many 
ma.ssive contributions of food. 

The Red Cross chartered a ship for the first consignment. Dr. 
Hi'bbcll personally took it to Riga and thereafter traveled to the 
famine-stricken districts in Russia to supervise the distribution of this 
and subsequent donations. Large as was the gift in the aggregate, it 
was small in comparison to the need. But it represented again the 
unique status of American feeling for those in need; the same senti- 
inent on which Miss Barton had built the Red Cross idea. 

The Czar of Russia particularly noted the meaning of the gift when 
he [personally decorated Dr. Hubbell as representative of the American 
Red Cross. No longer was the little .society in Wa.shington, oi its satel- 
lites growing in other cities, simply a provincial movement of do- 


And liaving wet its feet in the international field, it was logical that 
the Red Cross could not thereafter retire, even though the next call 
had more political complications than cither the Red Cross or the 
American government desired. Thai came in 1896. 

The scene was Armenia, and the occasion was a icncw'cd flarcup 
ot the historical Moslem-Christian warfare in which periodically, later 
as well as then, the Turks perpetrated appalling atrocities on the Ar- 
menian minority. This outbreak was particularly brutal, and aroused 
deep rc.sentment and pity exemplified through such American organiza- 
tions as the American Board of Foreign Missions and the Armenian 
Relief Committee. organizations were helpless to work in Turkey, where govern- 
ment policy aimed at extirpation of the Armenians held no note of 
sympathy for outsiders helping the victims. But Turkey was an ad- 
herent to the Red Cross Convention. Hence the Red C ross was asked 
to be the agency for Armenian relief. Reluctantly Barton accepted 



the call, and in January sailed for Constantinople in a role more qiuisi- 
diplomatic than otherwise. Accon.panying her were Dr. Hubbell and 
a staff of four. 

In Constantinople, Clara Barton :alled first on Tewtik i’asha, Min- 
i.ster of Foreign Affairs, who with a :ourtesy that surprisec' her asked 
her plans. The .seventy-four-yea r-old uiK'llicial ambassad<M-, prim in 
her bonnet but as regal in her deportment as her rojal friends in 
Europe, told him frankly; 

“We have brought only ourselves. No 'orrespondent has accomp:i. 
nied us, and we shall have none, and shall not go home to virile a 
book on Turkey. We arc not here for that. Nothing shall be done in 
any concealed manner. " 

She added, “I shall never counsel nor permit a sly or underhand 
action with your government, and you will pardim me. I’asha, if I 
say that I shall expect the same treatment in return— such as I give 
I shall expect to receive.” 

So she gave, and so she received, but the task was almost over- 
whelming. Fia.sco threatened the venture at every turn. One e.xpedition 
set off under the direction of Dr. Hubbell. Another worked under Dr. 

Ira Harris. At headquarters in Con.slantinople, where Clara Barton 
remained, George Pullman attempted to h.mdie the accounts for dis- 
bursement of some $ ] 1 5,000 in cc ntributions. 

At the height of the operation medical teams were fighting typhus 
and the other diseases of poverty and malnutrition over a range of 
country that required six weeks for delivery of a message, and handling 
communications in a babel of languages including Turkish, Armenian, 
Greek, Arabic, Italian and Kurdi.di. And while mcdicid relief pro- 
gre.s.sed, the Red Cross was importing at first, and then having made 
on the spot, tools for the planting of grain crops. 

Obviously much good was done, but tlie venture was not a happy 
one. From America and from England came questions as to whether 
the Red Cross under Miss Barton had not become the dupe of the 
Turkish government, and other questions as to the wisdom of the man- 
ner in which funds were handled. There were no definite charges, just 
questions that rankled, and that caused Clara Barton to strike back 
in correspondence to many trusted friend.s — to M. Moynier in Geneva, 
to her nephew Steve holding the fort at home, and to Frances Willard, 
who was working with Steve. One letter to Steve said, “I feel we are 



doing so much for humanity that no one else could do, and that there 
is so much gratitude on all sides, that it is almost a comfort to know 
w have suffered something for it.” 

Pms the grand old lady of relief brushed off the flies of criticis’ . 
t id as a treat to herself, with the mission completed, sailed up le 
Danube to Budapest and traveled to Germany to visit her old friend, 
ihe Giand Duchess of Baden. 






Propaganda and Politics 

For tiif. foundlinc; Red Cross the years between 1882 and the 
Spanish-American War involved much more than forays into disaster 
relief, basic and important as these were to its growth. The years 
were marked by as strong a propaganda effort as could be mustered, 
and for this period of time this activity was the comet flight of Clara 
Barton, trailed by her galaxy of followers. The trail led back and forth 
between the United States and Europe, from the drawing rooms and 
meeting halls of America's leading cities to the courts of Europe. 

When Secretary Frelinghuysen prescribed “salt water’ for the Red 
Cross leader in 1884, he launched her on a phase of her career that 
undeniably aggrandized the Red Cross but also did equally as much 
for the Clara Barton legend. 

Clara Barton went to Geneva, to attend the Third International 
Conference of the Red Cross with an appropriate train. Her fellow 
delegates were Judge Joseph Sheldon and Adolphus S. Solomons, vice 
president of the American National Red Cross. As personal aide she 
had Antoinette Margot, officially serving as interpreter. 

Geneva was a triumph for Clara Barton. She w’as the only woman 
delegate to the meeting, and certainly the outstanding point of interest. 

In fact, the Geneva meeting almost seems to have been planned 
to honor her American work, with Judge Sheldon himself denoted as 
the keynote speaker. Who then could forecast more than twenty-five 




aclive years still ahead of the sixty-thrce-year-old Miss Barton-a 
wonian so fatigued by recurrent illness and many labors. 

Judge Sheldon said: 

I hesitate here in her presence, and without time to suggest 
details, to speak fitly of her work already done . . . nobly and 
successfully, where many eminent statesmen and men of influence 
and ability utterly failed. And if the history of our relations to 
that treaty [the Treaty of Geneva, 1 864] and its ratification, and 
the relief work under it shall ever be adequately told, it will pre- 
sent all the elements of a career worthy of high admiration by 
all interested in humane work. 

I cannot now state what will be plainly seen, that she has done 
her work with the skill of a statesman, and the “final perseverance 
of the saints.” 

Be it noted that Judge Sheldon spoke within a few weeks after the 
subject of his oration had concluded four months of day-and-night 
relief labors, mostly aboard river boats, succoring flood victims in a 
path she traveled back and forth between Cincinnati and New Orleans. 

His speech in which he paid this tribute was followed by a vote 
of acclamation for the tiny woman who was credited with having 
brought the United States singlchandcd into the International Red 

The picture of Clara at Geneva was glowingly reported to America 
by Antoinette Margot, who sent news dispatches to the Tribune and 
Graphic in New York. Miss Margot wrote that the other delegates 
watched Miss Barton for any signal of agreement or disagreement with 
proposals put forward at the conference, particularly during the rather 
tense debate over the so-called American Amendment ofiicially ap- 
proving the peacetime role of the Red Cross along the pattern already 
set in the United States. 

As a personage. Miss Barton also played her role well. Even her 
clothes — the apparel of the formerly mouselike schoolteacher and 
Patent Office clerk — were a matter of remark, as well as of some 
concern to her. In fact, Annie Childs, who had become a sort of ad- 
viser to Clara in matters of dress, had taken considerable pains to 
see that the American Red Cross leader should hold her own in 



cowpctition with the famous and fashionable personages who would 
be at Geneva. 

It is recorded that Clara Barton had for outdoor wear a long, close- 
fitting coat and a bonnet with ribbon ties and a fur piece. She took 
along a silver basque for evening wear and a black satin dress with 
jet trimming for evening wear. She possessed “a tight-fitting dress of 
silk” for street and church wear, a garnet skirt, a polonaise and an 
“old green dress” that had been freshened with new velvet. 

With the formal clothes, she had now begun to wear medals and 
decorations, of which she seemed to be inordinately proud. Each ad- 
dition to these — whether from societies in the United States or from 
fr ' sign governments — was a new thrill to her. She accepted these as 
she accepted friend.ships of celebrities, as a normal and necessary attri- 
bute of the career she had laid out for herself. 

Those who thought they w'ere paying tributes to Clara Barton at 
the end of a notable career, when they honored her at Geneva in 
1884, could not have been more wrong in their estimate of the stamina 
of the frail little woman, then 63 years of age. She returned to the 
United States, closed for all time her house at Dansville, and moved 
into a house in Washington larger than the one on I Street had 
been. By now, her house was a beehive with comings and goings of 
aides, visitors and officials. Her interests were as wide as of any 
political leader, her influence often greater. 

As head of the Red Cross, Clara Barton had the official position 
and prestige that she so obviously desired. With this prestige firmly in 
her grasp, she used it to the hilt to bring attention to the Red Cross. 

At one moment in 1885 she was calling upon former General 
Grant, by now on his deathbed. At another time President Cleveland 
was requesting her to look into a politically and socially troublesome 
situation in Texas. This threatened trouble for the Red Cross and for 
the Administration alike, inasmuch as the Red Cross responsibilities 
still were to be defined by law. 

In any event, Texas was suffering from a prolonged drought. From 
one quarter, led by a country preacher, the Reverend John Brown, 
came demands for Red Cross relief for sufferers pictured as numbering 
100,000 families. From other quarters — the land-owning families — 
came reports that such descriptions were exaggerations that served 
only to hurt the name of the Lone-Star State. 



Clara Barton and Dr. Hubbcll acceded to President Cleveland’s 
request to look into the situation. The Red Cross leaders crisscrossed 
northwestern Texas, at best a barren streteh of endless plains, by horse 
and buggy, studying conditions. 

With Yankee forthrightness. Miss Barton reported on the spot that 
conditions affecting many persons were pitiful, but that this was a 
situation that Texas should handle with its ow'ri resources. And it is 
a strong indication of the prestige already won by the Red Cross that 
the recommendation was accepted. Furthermore, in the role of leader- 
ship she had assumed. Miss Barton set about showing Texans how to 

Clara went to see an old Civil War friend. Colonel A. II. Bclo, 
owner of the Morning News, in Dallas. He opened a public subscrip- 
tion list, starting it with a gift of $5,000 and announcing that Miss 
Barton personally was contributing to the fund. While this fund grew, 
the Texas legislature appropriated $ 1 00,000 for relief of the drought- 
stricken farmers. 

Clara Barton remained in Texas until wagons of relief supplies, feed 
and seed were rolling through the stricken area — in fart, until rains 
came and broke the drought. 

Then she hurried back to Washington, to attend the first encamp- 
ment in the capital of the Grand Army of the Republic. Honored there 
as a noted veteran of the Civil War, she busied herself with seeing 
that the Red flag was much in evidence and that the now familiar 
Red Cross brassard was sewed on the sleeves of all surgeons, nurses 
and others attached to the medical stall of the G.A.R. 


All this time the fagade of publicity was designed for a purpose far 
greater than the sporadic raising of relief funds or the personal glorifi- 
cation of Clara Barton. She de.spaired at times of ever seeing the Red 
Cross grow into anything like the image of it that was in her mind. 

She had continually thought of the organization as she had de- 
scribed it in prospect in letters to Dr. Appia in 1877 — a national one 
with headquarters in Wa.shington connecting area and state groupings 
of local chapters. In other words, a truly coordinated National Red 

7 ^ 


Cross su ti as it is today, differing perhaps in many detail- as the Red 
Cross has evolved through the years, but the same in concept. 

What the Red Cross actually was at the start of tJie Clara BurtOJl 
regime consisted of nothing more than the Washington society chnr- 
tered by the District of Columbia government, plus the incalculably 
valuable names of piominent persons who gave their support to Miss 
Barton. Among these were Senator Omcr D. Conger of Michigan; 
Richard J. Hinton, the nationally known newspaper correspondent: 
Judge William Lawrence; General and Mrs. N. V. Boynton; Judge 
Sheldon; Mr. Solomons, one of those rarelies in Washington, a local 
and highly successful businessman; and such younger followers as her 
n phew, Steve Barton, and young Dr. Hubbell. 

One technicality must be cletired away to make clear the limited 
status of the Red Cross that Miss Barton headed when she went to 
Geneva to the Third International Conference in 1884, and later to 
the Fourth International Conference at Karlsruhe in Baden in 1887. 
The United States government had signed, and the Senate had ratified, 
the Geneva T.reaty. but no provision had been made for chartering 
a National Red Cross under that treaty. Hence the American organiza- 
tion had no national standing. And the effort to obtain a charter from 
Congress was to prove about as ditlicult a task as had been the obtain- 
ing of rtitificalion for the treaty. 

This accounted for the constant propaganda and political effort, the 
pulling of wires in Washington, and the publicity on the international 
stage that occupied Clara Barton and her associates almost full-time 
between the disaster operations that in themselves were the best fuel 
for the publicity fires. I'his in turn account.s very largely for the seem- 
ingly insatiable publicity efforts, and the kowtowing to leading names 
on the world stage that increasingly marked Clara Barton’s advancing 
years. She gathered publicity w'hcre she could, ;ind in return for it gave 
adulation that at times threatened to w-arp her own judgment of the 
world in whieh she lived. 

The upper classes paid her no heed, so she never returned 
to England for a second visit after the first in 1872. The French people 
likewise did not strike her as ho.spitable in the manner of supporting 
her American work. 

On the other hand, the German — particularly the Prussian — royalty 
lionized her through the Emperor’s daughter, the Grand Duchess 



Louise — undoubtedly using Clara Barton as a tool to win favor with 
the German emigrants in America and as part of the propaganda to 
offset the bad taste left in many mouths by the brutally pursued con- 
quest of France in 1 870 and the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine. 
But to Clara Barton the Germans were the cream of Europe and, it 
would seem, the only ones worth knowing. 

Yet in her likes and dislikes she was devotedly sincere. If snobbery 
or ambition prompted her to cultivate Louise in her struggling days 
with the Red Cross, the fact remains that when Clara Barton was 
failing in 1912, only six weeks before her dCi th, the aged lady penned 
a note to one of Europe’s almost forgotten royal characters, the equally 
aged Louise, with the salutation, “Dearest, dearest Grand Duchess.” 

Whatever the other reasons might have been behind Clara Barton’s 
courting of the spotlight, the Red Cross fared well in world publicity 
when it still had stiff work to do to obtain official recognition in 

In Karlsruhe, in 1887, where Clara Barton headed again a delega- 
tion of three, this time accompanied by Dr. Hubbcll and the prominent 
woman physician. Dr. Lucy M. Hall, she was Louise’s personal guest. 
That was remarked around the world, together with the tact that while 
Miss Barton and Dr. Hall held credentials that permitted them to sit 
as delegates in the convention, the concourse of German royalty, emi- 
nent members of the international legal and medical fraternities, and 
heads of military establishments were restricted to viewing the pro- 
ceedings from the galleries. 

At one reception in Karlsruhe, Clara Barton discussed as an expert 
from her Civil War experience, casualties with those eminent creators 
of battle casualities, Prince Bismarck, Germany's “Iron Chancellor,” 
and Count von Moltke, Field Marshal of Emperor William's conquer- 
ing armies. 

Emperor William himself, still active despite his own advanced age, 
sought her out for a visit during a reception in his daughter’s palace, 
and noted with pleasure that among her many medals she wore one 
bestowed by himself, doubtless at Louise’s suggestion, when special 
medals were struck to celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday. 

On this occasion Clara Barton made probably the silliest gesture 
of her life in kowtowing to “name” figures, but in the setting it did 
no harm and possibly a little good for the continued popularity of 



the Red Cross in Europe. As IshbeJ Ross reconstructed the story, the 
Emperor noted that alongside his and other medals, Miss Barton wore 
one given to her by the Verein Deutscher Waffengenossen of Mil- 
waukee, Wisconsin, a group composed of emigrant German survivors 
of the Franco-Prussian War, who had elected her a member of their 
society in recognition of her own humane services in that war. 

“And they make good citizens?" the Kaiser asked her. 

“The best that could be desired,” Clara Barton replied, adding, 
“industrious, honest and prosperous, and, sire, they are still yours in 
heart, still true to the Fatherland and its Emperor." 

William is quoted as having replied, “I am glad to hear this; they 
w^ re good soldiers and, thank God, true men everywhere." And he 
w'cnt on to make his compliments to America. 

In fairness it must be stated that, away from the pomp of court 
life, Clara Barton was her old self when she showed Dr. Hall the sights 
of Strasbourg and recalled “the poor wretches, all covered with ragged 
and festering wounds," for whom and among whom she had worked so 
hard after the siege of that city in 1 870. 

All of this made quite a story for Dr. Hall to report in an article 
she wrote for the Vassar Miscellany. 

On the other hand, Clara Barton showed ingenious touches of self- 
consciousness in this period of publicity, fanfare and propaganda. 
When invited to speak before the Sorosis Club in New York, she was 
genuinely concerned about the clothes she should wear in order to 
make the proper appearance. So she wiote to Mrs. M. Louise Thomas, 
who had invited her. Clara knew that this wn'> a signal honor. 

In the invitation Mrs. Thomas had pointed out that this was the 
only time each year when outsidens — gentlemen and “gentlewomen” 
— ^were invited to a club afl'air. She named P. T. Barnum, Robert 
Collycr and Will Carleton among those who would attend, together 
with many cditor.s, judges and literary men and women. 

Mrs. Thomas duly wrote to Clara that she herself, as chairman of 
this meeting, would wear a black velvet gown with a train and her 
Sorosis badge, and would carry a fan and flowers. Good diplomat that 
she was, Mrs. Thomas suggested that Clara wear a lace on her head, 
otherwise whatever costume she desired, but to be sure to include 
“your well-earned decorations, all of which I want yem to wear." 




Clara Barton became seventy-five years of age on Christmas Day, 
1896. This anniversary came only a few months after her strenuous 
relief foray into Turkey. It found her exhausted and again going 
through a despondent mood that extremely worried Dr. Hubbell, 
George Pullman and Dr. Lucy Hall, who had now become Mrs. R. G. 

In retrospect this might have been the best historical moment in 
which Clara Barton could have .stepped do vn and let the Red Cross 
develop as an organization rather than as the entourage of her per- 
sonality. Just as much of its strength had come from the indomitable 
leadership of Clara Barton, so had the one-woman rule developed 
many weaknesses. 

There were .strong and large .societies in New York, Philadelphia 
and Boston, and .scores of other smaller ones reaching from the Atlan- 
tic to the Rocky Mountains. The trail of organizations roughly marked 
the routes over which the Barton trail had wandered in disaster relief. 
But it is notable that there arc few records of leaders in name or action 
in those early societies. 

One hears only of Clara Barton and her followers — rushing here 
and there to alleviate the effects ."if disaster, traveling half around the 
world, dominating world conventions. But where were the others? Sub- 
merged under a cloak of anonymity that would explode within a few 
years into a violent controversy, which first would threaten to tear 
down the whole idea, but out of which would come the enduring .struc- 

But weak as Clara Barton might seem to be in the winter of 1 896- 
97, she was far from out. 

In the fall of 1897 she again headed her delegation, to the Sixth 
International Conference of the Red Cross, convened in Vienna. She 
had not gone to the fifth conference, held in Rome in 1 892. Dr. Hub- 
bell had reported for her. No more feebleness marked Clara now. In 
Paris she paused to sec Sarah Bernhardt, to shop and to visit the Eiffel 
Tower and the Jardm des Plantes. And each day she found the energy 
to spend hours preparing reports on the work done by the American 
Red Cross in the five years since the last conference had been called. 
Those reports now had come to be accepted as laboratory experiments 



pounded out in actual experience in disaster work — experiments that 
already were affecting profoundly the world-wide conception of the 
Red Cross in peacetime. 

Between the making of reports, there was more of the lionizing of 
Clara Barton that contributed probably most of all to the American 
Red Cross stature. Hers was the most prominent seat at the general 
sessions. Her views were the most sought-after when debate showed 
divisions of opinion. It was she who attracted most attention at the 
court reception given for the delegates, and it was she who was chosen 
to walk with the Mayor of Vienna at the head of the procession of 
Red Cross delegates into the Jubilee Hall of the Ralhaus where the 
cilv paid its hostly dues. There was even a special train provided to 
take Clara Barton to Kahlcnberg to view the poetic stretches of the 
Danube and the Vienna Woods. 

It was things like this, too, that caused the stature of the American 
Red Cross to grow at home in proportion to the celebrity achieved 
by its founder. There were such tributes as importunities from Frances 
Willard for C'lara to back actively the temperance program to protect 
students at Yale from the "saloon influence.” There were countless 
invitations to lecture, which Clara declined because of the press of her 
other work. 

She returned from Vienna to settle in her last home, the house at 
Glen Echo built with the lumber salvaged from Johnstow'n, Pennsyl- 

This house, which combined the functions of Red Cross headquar- 
ters and personal home for CJara B.irton, provided a suitable setting 
for the retirement years of one of the most colorful careers carved out 
by any woman in the nineteenth century. 

Its gardens, dairy and trees were the particular responsibility of 
Dr. Hubbell, who throughout his lifetime had a great affinity for the 
soil. Almost pretentious in size for its time, it was a busy house, with 
numerous apartments for the entertainment of guests. Clara’s flag col- 
lection was displayed in its corridors; the rooms overflowed with 
treasured furnishings which had come mostly as gifts to her from 
admirers, such as a gold settee from the Grand Duchess Louise. 

In surroundings of her choice, Clara Barton could settle here — 
working to the degree she desired, and pampered by her household — 
completely protected from the rigors of super-activity and the storms 



of controversy, whenever she chose to delegate her leadership else- 

But to her such a thought was absurd. 

Within a few months after returning from Vienna, the battle- 
toughened septuagenarian was off to another war, this time in Cuba, 
after first winning a preliminary skirmish to keep other would-be 
leaders from intruding upon her dominance. Never would she permit 
another to displace her in the first wartime operation by the American 
Red Cross in the Western Hemisphere since its authorization in 1881 
under the Geneva Convention. 

+ + + + + 

First Test by War 

In the spring of 1897, more than a year befor,; the outbreak of 
the Spanish-Amcrican War, Cuba became a focal point of interest to 
many North Americans interested in extending a humane hand of 
friendship to a plundered populace. The thing that sparked this inter- 
est was the plight of the so-called rcamccntrados in Cuba, the natives 
who, as a result of resisting Spanish tyranny, had been herded into 
concentration camps. 

The plight of these Cubans hod won concern on the part of the Red 
Cross before Miss Barton sullied off to the Vienna conference that 
year. But under her leadership the American Red Cross societies had 
moved cautiously because of the complications rtnolved in relation- 
ships between the United States, Spain and the insurgent forces in 
Cuba. Oddly enough, it was the activity of another group composed 
of women calling their (Organization the National Relief Fund for 
Cuba, that precipitated Red Cross interest in taking direct steps. 

This group, derisively dubbed by Clara Barton “the Court Ladies, 
so aroused her ire that she called personally on President McKinley 
ill July to discuss the situation. Despite an asthmatic attack that made 
it dillicult for her to lay the problem before him. he sided with the 
Red Cross and suggested that Miss Barton confer with the Army and 
Navy. This she did, without confiding to the President that she already 
had held detailed ncg(^tiations with President Moynier of the Interna- 
tional Red Cross as to possible courses of action. 




Within a few days, when Clara called again on President McKinley, 
he told her that she had been chosen as “the most efficient source of 
aid” to collect and dispense funds for the benefit of the reconcen- 

Miss Barton moved fast, now that the politics of the affair were 
settled. President McKinley personally issued an appeal for funds to 
support the Red Cross work and the Central Cuban Relief Committee 
was formed in New York to receive money. Miss Barton declined an 
invitation to serve as chairman of this committee but nominated her 
nephew Steve, who took the post; with Charles A. Schieren, repre- 
senting the New York Chamber of Commerce; and Louis Klopsch, of 
the Christian Herald, as fellow members. 

On February 4, President McKinley wrote a letter which read in 
part as follows: 

Miss Barton's well known ability, her long devotion to the 
noble work of extending relief to the needy and suffering in dif- 
ferent lands, as well as her high character as a woman, commend 
her to the consideration and good will of all people. 

1 bespeak for Miss Barton, wherever her mission may take her, 
such assistance and cncouragment as she may need in prosecut- 
ing the work to which she has devotedly given so much time and 

Two days later, accompanied by Dr. Hubbcll and J. K. Elwcll, 
formerly a merchant in Santiago, Cuba, and a llucnt speaker of Span- 
ish, Miss Barton sailed at the age of seventy-five to her last great 
battlefield adventure. 

Before it was over she would have carried the Red Cross banner 
through three phases of Cuban operations — rcconcentrado relief, the 
Spanish-Amcrican War, and orphan and hospital relief work in Cuba 
in the spring and summer of 1 898. 

In that year and a half, never once interrupted by illness or fatigue 
despite her advanced age, Miss Barton would reach another summit 
of her career, and come perilously close to wrecking the very organiza- 
tion she so sincerely desired for the Red Cross. As for the Red Cross, 
this would be its last long step toward accreditation as a national or- 
ganization instead of a loosely knit group of local and state societies; 
and one so strong that rumblings of discontent over the one-woman 



nature of its leadership would almost, but not quite, topple the old 
lady from her pinnacle. 

For two months, broken by one dramatic interlude, Clara Barton, 
Dr. Hubbcll and a party of some tM'cnty helpers worked among the 
sickening sights and smells of the concentration camps, dispensing 
what comfort they could to hundreds of thousands of Cuban political 
prisoners. A showplace villa was placed at Miss Barton’s disposal, but 
busy days found her traveling from one camp to another, organizing 
what comforts and relief were possible with the bounty of stores sent 
from New York — from Havana to Cienfuegos, to Matanzas, Artemisa 
and a score of other camps she traveled. 

The dramatic interlude was one more example of history’s coin- 
cidental creation of flomcric backgrounds for Clara Barton. Immedi- 
ately after she had arrived at Havana she wa-. invited to lunch aboard 
the battleship Maine. Two days later, while she was working into the 
night on correspondence, the doors of her room facing the sea flew' 
open, a deafening blast shook the furniture, and all inferno seemed to 
have torn loose in the night. 

The Maine had just been blown up. Miss Barton left her current 
work, sent a telegram to New York stating simply. ”1 am with the 
wounded,” and for several days thereafter did whatexer was possible 
to augment the assistance given by the Navy authorities ashore to 
their own — what Miss Barton, never an admirer of oflicial medical 
organizations, now termed ‘ excellent Navy care." Then sne hurried 
off on the rounds of her original mission. 

Senator Redfield Proctor went to Cuba to observe what the Red 
Cross was doing. When Miss Barton showed him some examples of 
the concentration camps, he .saw the almost hopeles.: task that had 
been assumed. 

Senator Proctor returned to deliver a speech in the Senate that — 
added to the inflamed feeling causec by the sinking of the Maine — 
certainly advanced the possibility of a declaration of war on Spain. 
He charged that 200,000 of Cuba’s population of some 1,600,000 
already had died in these camps. His praise of the Red Cross work, as 
handled by Miss Barton, was unstinted. 

“I especially looked into her business methods,” he reported, 
“fearing that there might be want of system, waste and extravagance, 
but found she could teach me on these points. In short I saw nothing 



to criticize, everything to commend. The American people may be 
assured that the bounty will reach the sufferers with the least possible 
cost and in the best manner in every respect.'’ 

This endorsement was to mean much to the Red Cross in the weeks 
and months ahead, when the still immature organization faced all the 
usual demands of war, small in scale but a challenge to organization. 


With all of its lack of organization, incxpe. icnce and the limitations 
imposed by its monolithic leadership, the Red Cross hammered out 
much of its character in the Spanish-American War. Furthermore, this 
was the crucible that refined much of the theory evolved by the older 
international organization into practical experience for greater tests 
of the future, because w'ith the exception of the brief Franco-Prussian 
War in 1870 there had been no major conllict in the world since the 
Geneva Convention was framed. 

Thus the American organization, already marked as the great pio- 
neer in peacetime relief work, had the opportunity to turn high-sound- 
ing articles written on pieces of paper into sweaty and trying activities 
on the home front and the battlefield alikt, however miniature in scale 
the war might be. 

In a brief span of months, in 1 898, the American National Red 
Cross — not yet national at all, be it remembered — achieved several 
notable results: 

1 . It won acceptance for, and put into practice, the idea of recruit- 
ing female nurses for duty with troops in wartime. 

2. It demon.strated its power to weld persons with humane instincts 
into a compact organization for the raising of funds and provision r)f 
nonmilitary supplies. For instance, the shipment of 800 tons of ice 
from Maine to Cuba was a godsend beyond price. 

3. It developed the unique Red Cross field worker assigned to duty 
with military units, to work with but not under military command. 

4. Most of all, it won acceptance of the need for the job it could do. 

The Red Cross actually had no program to put into operation in the 

Spanish-American War. There was no time to develop one after hos- 
tilities commenced. What was done was evolved under emergency con- 
ditions, always handicapped by the absence from Washington or New 

first test by war 


York of Miss Barton, who should have been directing staff work 
there. But somehow the program got done, and generally it was a 
credit to the Red Cross. 

At President McKinley’s suggestion, the New York Chamber of 
Commerce sponsored a committee to collect money and supplies for 
Red Cross use in Cuba. This was called the Central Cuban Relief 
Committee. It quickly won the support of the whole country, and 
served as a rallying point for the scattered Red Cross Societies 
throughout the country. It mustered the support of ninety-two auxil- 
iary ci)mmittees covering the United States cast of the Rocky Moun- 
tains. Later the California Red Cross State Association, numbering 
fort' branches, received authority from the national society to act in 
the Philippines and other sections of the Paciiic theater of war. 

On April 22, 1 8h8, the Navy declared a state of siege of Cuba. On 
that very date the New York committee had completed loading a 
chartered steamer, the State of Texas, with supplies intended for relief 
of the C'uban civilian population. The State of Texas was dispatched 
to Key West, a n ival base, on April 23 to await developments. Then 
the United States declared on April 25 that a state of war existed with 
Spain. Miss Barton, who had hurried north in early .April for coordi- 
nating conferences, returned south and joined the State of Texas at 
Key West upon its arrival there. She left to an emergency committee 
in Washington and to Steve Barton the task of working out a plan for 
Red Cross operations with the forces. 

In this situation the Red Cross lloundered through the war. The 
American National Red Cross in Washington was the only agency 
recognized by the government under the Geneva Convention w'hich 
became invoked automatically with declaration of war, but the so- 
called “national" organization was simply a group of individuals in 
one city. 

How'cver, war helped to define Red Cross responsibility. Displace- 
ment of Cuban rebel work marked the end of the Central Cuban Re- 
lict Committee. Now the same leadership set up in New York the 
American National Red Cross Relief Committee. It actually mustered 
the other societies for war work with the Army but acted almost inde- 
pendently of the National Red Cross. Finally, there w'as nothing in 
law or precedent to divide lines of operation between the Red Cross 
and the Army Medical Corps, Recruitment of nurses for duty with the 



Army was taken over by an organization called Committee on Mainte- 
nance of Trained Nurses, Auxiliary No. 3 of the New York Red Cross 

The politics of the situation were even more complicated. On May 
24, 1898, the State Department officially proclaimed the National Red 
Cross as “the proper and sole representative in the United States” of 
the International Red Cross Committee to carry out functions “for the 
relief of wounded in war” — the first official recognition, in fact, by 
this government of the legal status of the Red Cross under the Geneva 

But there still remained the Army Medical Corps, headed by Sur- 
geon General George M. Sternberg, whose views on volunteer civilians 
serving with the Army, particularly female nurse volunteers, were pre- 
cisely in accord with those of his Civil War predecessors. Now there 
was no strong-willed Clara Barton to carry the contest to a solution or 
compromise. She was glued to her self-designated post on the State of 
Texas and there she would remain until late June when this ship was 
permitted to sail for Cuba. 

But bit by bit, largely because the need and the time for its poten- 
tial services at last had met, the Red Cross overcame obstacles, among 
which the greatest were perhaps within itself. 


Out of the welter of uncoordinated and oftentimes unrelated activities 
were hammered in essence the Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces 
as they have grown and been proved in major tests since 1898. As 
examples of these services: 

The Red Cross Relief Committee and its affiliates, composed often 
of men and women with keen memories of troop hardship in the Civil 
War, set out to raise money and procure those things that always get 
lost in red tape. 

Hospital and camp equipment, abdominal bands and underwear for 
wounded or ill men, canned goods, pajamas and nightshirts, delicacies 
and the priceless ice — these were among thousands of items purchased 
or gathered as contributions in kind. Remembering that the year was 
1898, the size of the contributions is impressive: more than $100,000 
raised in California, $50,000 from Cleveland, as examples. The 

first test by war 


A.N.R.C. relief committee in New York dispatched provisions valued 
at $360,000. 

These were not slacked up to await need on the battlefields. The 
hardship phase of the Spanish-American War was as acute, or more 
so, in camps on American soil as in Cuba. And the first Red Cross 
field representatives acted as agents to search out such needs and sup- 
ply them. 

At a training camp at Chickamauga, 500 cases of typhoid fever 
developed in one day, whereupon Steve Barton, acting as chairman of 
the National Red Cross Executive Committee, authorized any neces- 
sary work “to alleviate the suffering without stint.’* Another field 
agent reported from Jacksonville that many hospital patients had 
neither sheets nor nightshirts. The Red Cross went into action, sup- 
plementing gifts of these things with fresh milk, ice and other supplies 
and, when Army medical supplies ran low, supplying sterilizing ap- 
paratus, hypodermic needles and syringes. 

In the meantime, from New York to San Francisco Red Cross 
women were creating the substance if not the formal organizations of 
the subsequent Gray Ladies, Recreation Services, and Canteen Corps, 
among others; by entertaining embarking troops and establishing rest 
and recreation tents, with game rooms and reading and writing facili- 
ties, for men in transit and in hospital and recuperation camps. They 
penned letters dictated by soldiers too feeble to write. They organized 
games and in a few instances took on the responsibility of providing 
emergency relief for families whose men had gone away to war. 

The old and sketchy records of Spanish-American War Red Cross 
activities necessarily deal mostly with the broad picture and the gener- 
alities of fund-raising, supplies collected, and in particular with the 
figure of Clara Barton. But there comes through this picture here and 
there evidence of the vital factor that marked the adolescent stage of 
the American Red Cross — the springing up of chapters as the arteries 
and veins of the body that made it truly “national” and “American,” 
as distinct from these words denoting the Washington hierarchy. 

While the records of 1898 mention ninety-two Red Cross auxiliaries 
cooperating with the successive New York committees and the Cali- 
fornia Red Cross State Association with its forty branches, these mean 
so many individual cooperating community groups that are today 
known as separate chapters. In these cities men and women raised 



amounts of money phenomenal for the day, particularly as there were 
no national fund drives with organized broadside publicity. In addi- 
tion, many women sewed. 

The collection of supplies often meant making thousands of units 
in Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland or Denver and assembling them in 
New York. Or it meant the ingenuity, noted by Miss Barton, of “some 
lovely committee of home ladies,” who collected the funds and loaded 
a ship with 800 tons of ice to send to Santiago. 

In the South, Red Cross work in primitive and often fever-laden 
camps — all the little touches to make the sick c^'mfortable and the 
well less depressed — was done by local women. In San Francisco, then 
a relatively small city, hot lunches and coffee were served by Red 
Cross volunteers to 17,000 men awaiting debarkation. Oakland, Cali- 
fornia, anticipated military procedure by many years when an ingen- 
ious and unnamed volunteer sparked the idea of providing each sol- 
dier embarking from San Francisco with an identification badge — so 
often the only means of identifying the dead or wounded. 

Finally the Red Cross won a fight, quite independently of Miss 
Barton, to provide some of the nurses so badly needed by the Army 
Medical Corps and yet so strenuously opposed by the Surgeon Gen- 
eral. His fears were not entirely based on whim; there was a strong 
feeling among the medical fraternity that such nurses as might be 
drawn to military service would be impelled by motives other than 
sheer service, and that, in addition, the introduction of women to 
essentially all-male installations w'ould impose new burdens of housing 
and care beyond the offsetting value of the work they would perform. 

The ice was broken, not by the Red Cross, but by a committee of 
the Daughters of the American Revolution, headed by Dr. Anita N. 
McGee, who was to become an Acting Assistant Surgeon General 
charged with organization of the Army Nurse Corps. Dr. McGee 
undertook to procure volunteer nurses; but only for work in general 
hospitals; not overseas or in training camps or in the field. She became 
a relentless enemy of Clara Barton, still attacking her after the latter 
had died. 

The Red Cross, through its Committee on Maintenance of Trained 
Nurses, took its claim of right and duty under the Geneva Treaty right 
to President McKinley. He arranged a meeting with General Sternberg, 
who in turn agreed to accept nurses recruited by the Red Cross. 

first test by war 


The Red Cross committee had as its chairman one of the strongest- 
willed of American women, Mrs. Whitelaw Reid. She was typical of 
the emerging type of feminine leader in America already challenging 
Clara Barton’s self-defined monopoly of Red Cross leadership. For- 
tunately, at that time nursing had reached an advanced stage of de- 
velopment in the United States. Tt was a recognized profession, to 
which admission was gained only by educated young women after 
long training in residence in accredited hospitals or schools. 

Soon thereafter the first nurses, now recruited by the Red Cross and 
serving under the Army, made such a good record in general hospitals 
that they were granted some of the opportunities that General Stern- 
berg had first opposed so strongly. A few' got to Cuba, a few to the 
Philippines, and many to camps and field hospitals. 

Before the Spanish-Amcrican War ended, the Red Cross had re- 
cruited about seven hundred nurses, one-third of the total employed 
by the Army. Half of the Red Cross contingent v/as maintained at the 
expense of the Red Cross. 

The final decision on this experiment was written by a Congres- 
sional Committee after the W'ar: 

“Our recent experience may justly be held to have shown that fe- 
male nurses, properly trained and properly selected, can be duly 
cared for and are of the greatest value.” 

1 V 

Having staled that the whole Red Cioss operation in the Spanish- 
Amcrican War suffered from Clara Barton's preoccupation with get- 
ting to Cuba, it is only fair to add that her presence in the battle zone 
also wrote a large chapter of Red C ross history. 

In May of 1898 we find her, in company with Dr. Hubbcll. nine 
nurses and a small staff on board the State of Texas: 

The ship, not really accredited as anything, is neither a war ves.sel 
nor a white-painted hospital ship. As a chartered Red Cross vc.ssel it 
will have no status until the State Department acts at the end of that 
month to notify the War and Navy Departments of the Red Cross's 
official status. 

Loaded with 1 ,400 tons of supplies for Cuban patriots, now badly 
needed by our own forces, the State of Texas at one time acts as a 



mercy ship by treating medically the crews of Spanish merchant ships 
that have been captured and interned. It is simply a curiosity, occa- 
sionally visited by newspaper correspondents to see the celebrity who 
is managing it, and again visited on May 23 by General William R. 
Shafter to learn what he may expect in the way of aid from it for his 
Cuban expeditionary force. 

What Clara Barton belatedly came to recognize, and what was 
clearly seen by George Kennan, the former newspaper correspondent 
now Vice President of the National Red Cross, was that the massi\b 
and active relief committee in New York h td thrown her paper or- 
ganization into the shade. Even the name of Clara Barton, in absentia, 
was no match for the vigorous activity on the home front of Levi P. 
Morton, New York chairman, and such other figures as Mrs. Reid, 
Bishop Henry C. Potter, William T. Wardwcll and Dr. George F. 

None of these tried to undercut the national organization; in fact, 
they had outfitted the State of Texas and had pledged full support to 
the national organization. But as a group they were far bigger, more 
active and doing more things. 

On June 20, at long last. Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, naval 
commander and the victor at Santiago, issued orders permitting the 
State of Texas to proceed to Guantanamo Bay, where the Marines had 

Aboard the State of Texas when this historic order was delivered 
were Miss Barton, twenty Red Cross medical and nonmedical workers 
and a crew of thirty-five men. All were civilians. On the hull of the 
ship and on its .smokestack was painted the Red Cross symbol. Its 
barnacle-covered hull made such slow progress that its assigned port 
of Siboney was not reached until the night of June 26. 

At Guantanamo the medical staff joined the Reserve Divisional 
Hospital at Siboney, while Clara Barton and her nonprofessional staff 
— and her supplies — were welcomed for the relief work they could do. 

It was not a pretty sight they saw on land. Already the Rough 
Riders had been hit, losing among their dead Hamilton Fish, son of 
the former Secretary of State. Many of the American wounded still 
lay in their bloodstained clothes in native huts. As always, supplies 
were desperately short. Patients lay on bare floors even in the so- 

first test by war 


called hospitals. There was little or no protection from dirt, flies or 
lice — the barest sanitary facilities, if any. 

At Siboney, Clara Barton found the Army welcoming her supplies 
but a little appalled at the thought of her female nurses serving ashore. 
The weather was adverse, but unloading began — medical supplies, 
meal, flour, coffee, tea and canned goods. Hour by hour, the little 
woman who could not possibly have such energy at the age of seventy- 
live, directed work aboard ship, until finally word came from Gen-.-ral 
Shaftcr that she should proceed to the front. 

Here was the repeat performance of the Clara Barton triumph in 
the Civil War. Penciled with General Shaftcr’s own hand was an order 
authorizing Clara Barton to seize any necessary transport and get 
along with blankets, tents, food and medical necessities. She did just 

Through a pounding surf separating the State of Texas by half a 
mile from the beach, Clara went ashore with her staff — Dr. and Mrs. 
Gardner, Major James A. McDowell, a Civil War veteran, and others. 

The first contingent of Red Cross supplies was loaded by Dr. Hub- 
bcll onto two six-mule Army wagons and headed toward the 1st Divi- 
sion Hospital of the Fifth Army Corps. Clara and her group hailed a 
hay wagon and followed it, to find what George Kcnnan described as 
follows: “If there was anything more terrible in our Civil War, 1 am 
glad I was not there to see it.’* 

The forward “hospital” w'as situated in a valley surrounded by 
dense jungle east of Santiago. It was made up of thiec large tents, six 
smaller ones and a scattering of individual “shelter halves’’ of Army 
tents (half tents carried by soldiers in their packs'). In and around the 
tents were wounded men. Eight hundred were there wnen Clara Bar- 
ton arrived. Without blankets or covering for more than a fraction of 
them, the broken bodies were lying on soaked earth and wet grass. 
Many whose clothes had been cut oft so that their wounds could be 
treated were naked, as there was neither clothing nor cloth with which 
to cover them. 

New arrivals were brought in almost continually, to this gory' back 
alley marking the realistic portion, so quickly forgotten, of the now 
famous and gallant battles of El Caney and San Juan Hill. They were 
“Rough Riders” at the front, but here only the same pitiful and help- 



less creatures that Clara Barton had come to know so well in Virginia 
a generation earlier. 

If the scene was repeated as though there had not been more than 
thirty intervening years, so the sight brought out the fundamental 
spirit of Clara Barton, whose aging body refused also to admit that 
those years had passed by it. Her therapy was based on food as a pri- 
mary requisite. Others could handle the medical work. 

With McDowell, Clara looked at the cooking facilities and con- 
demned the amateurish outdoor structure that she saw. With her 
own hands, assisted by McDowell’s, she built an outdoor oven and 
fought to get a proper fire going. It was difficult, because the rain was 
falling and the wood was green, but the old campaigners made their 
fire and started kettles of water to boiling. 

A few hours later Clara wrote, “I had not thought to ever make 
gruel again over a camp fire,” but make it she did, and before the eve- 
ning was over these men in the swamp had a hot meal, supplemented 
with milk, chocolate, rice and lea. Also, she evolved that night what 
she called “Red Cross cider” made from slewed apples and prunes, 
mixed with lime juice and cooled in a stream. 

As the night wore on, a night in which seventeen men died and 
walking wounded continued to come down from the heights. Dr. 
Hubbell went back for more supplies and Clara Barton tore up un- 
bleached muslin into strips to cover the naked men. In passing she 
recorded her opinion that the battle was being poorly fought, sending 
gallant charges of men against entrenched troops without preparatory 
artillery barrages. 

Clara Barton remained at this post for two days, working closely 
with Major Marshall William Wood, Chief Surgeon of the 1st Divi- 
sion, watching operations carried on by day and night, on rough plank 
tables set in the open. The rain stopped briefly and it was the sea.son 
of bright moonlight, which made possible more night work but also 
had its risks. Two Red Cross workers — one from the official Red 
Cross group — were killed by sharpshooters in moving supplies from 
the beach to the field hospital. Three times Clara made this trip her- 
self as supplies were fetched until all the men were covered — and what 
the Red Cross could provide was in ample supply, if anything is ever 
ample in wartime. 

first test by war 


And one morning Clara had a visitor, as she herself described it: 

We were very glad to meet the gallant leader of the Rough 
Riders. After a few moments conversation he said, “I have some 
sick men with the regiment who refuse to leave it. They need such 
delicacies as you have here, which I am ready to pay for out of 
my own pocket. Can I buy them from the Red Cross?” 

“Not for a million dollars,” said Dr. Gardner. 

“But my men need these things,” he said, his tone and face ex- 
pressing anxiety. “I think a great deal of my men. I am proud of 

“And wc know they are proud of you, Colonel. But we can’t 
sc n Red supplies.” 

“Then, how can I get them? T must have proper food for my 
sick men,” he said. 

“Just ask for them. Colonel.” 

“Oh,” he said, his face lighting up with a bright smile, “then 
I do ask for them.” 

On the spot a sack was filled with malted milk, oatmeal, canned 
fruits, rice, tea, chocolate, meat and vegetables, and Clara added in 
her account: 

Before wc had recovered from our surprise, the incident was 
closed by the future President of the U.S. slinging the big sack 
over his shoulders, striding off, and out of sight through the 


The Red Cross work in Cuba was as brief and dramatic as the fighting. 
On July 4 the Spanish Fleet was destroyed by Admiral Dewey in the 
Battle of Santiago Bay. A few days later San Juan and El Caney were 
captured, although at a of 1,475 killed and wounded, many of the 
latter of whom streamed through the hospital where Clara Barton, her 
civilian helpers and a Red Cross medical staff labored. Then on Au- 
gust 13 yellow fever broke out in Siboney, striking at the Red Cross 
medical staff among other victims. 

Since the State of Texas could no longer unload medical supplies 
at Siboney — in fact, the Army soon ordered the town burned to check 



the spread of fever — Miss Barton and her party embarked for San- 
tiago, where she reported to General Shatter, asking permission to 
enter Santiago and resume the work of relieving suffering Cuban 

Here was another incident of the dramatic ups and downs encoun- 
tered throughout its history by the Red Cross. 

Permission first was refused for the State of Texas to enter Santiago 
at all, since it had come from Siboney and therefore was suspect as a 
carrier of the dreaded yellow fever. For four days it lay in the road- 
stead, while the military and naval authorities were preoccupied with 
organizing the victory procession with which the city would be taken 
over formally from the defeated Spaniards. 

Then, without notice, a launch appeared alongside the State of 
Texas with official orders that the dirty, black-hulled little steamer 
with its Red Cross insignia should be the first ship to steam into the 
harbor, ahead of all the armed might of the victors. Someone, some- 
where, never identified, apparently had an auspicious sense of public 

As the State of Texas proceeded on its historic little voyage into 
Santiago, Miss Barton — ever more eloquent as her age advanced — 
jotted down the following: 

Could it be possible that the commander who had captured a 
city declined to be the first to enter — that he would hold back his 
flagship and himself and send forward and first a cargo of food on 
a plain ship, under the direction of a woman? Did our commands, 
military or naval, hold men great enough of soul for such action ? 

It must be true — for the spires of Santiago rise before us. 

With the war ended, the Clara Barton mission returned to its origi- 
nally planned role of assisting Cuban civilians, remaining until Sep- 
tember of 1898. Again in 1899, Miss Barton personally led another 
relief expedition to Cuba, but now the bloom was off the vine for 
such personal forays by the leader of the Red Cross. The scope and 
importance of the Red Cross demanded another reappraisal. Here its 
history pivots from the field of personal inspiration to that of organiza- 

+ + + + + 

By Authority of 
Coogressiooal Charter 

In 1900 THi; congress of the United States cranted to the National 
Red Cross a charter designating it as the official agency for the ren- 
dering of certain services to the armed forces. But the charter was 
anti-climax. That which was granted already had been offered and 
accepted in practice. And the charter affirmed a legal status that had 
existed in fact for so long that already grave revolutions in concept 
and leadership were threatening either to tear the Red Cross to shreds 
or to hammer it into the truly national status that it had long claimed 
but never held. 

The wSpanish-American War had in many respects, proved to the 
Red Cross what it could be; at the same time it had fhown that the 
Red Cross as conceived, created and led by a single individual, how- 
ever gifted, could never assume the posture required by a modern 

As in every revolutionary social change written into law, the Act 
of Congress incorporating the American National Red Cross set forth 
a series of standards that gave small indication of the forces behind 
the legislation. The law of incorporation, dated June 6, 1900, au- 
thorized and directed the Red Cross to furnish v’oluntecrs to aid the 
sick and wounded of the armies in time of war; to serve as a means of 
communication between the armed forces and the people as well as 
with other Red Cross societies; to provide relief in times of peace for 




sufferers from national calamities; and to devise measures for prevent- 
ing suffering from such events. Also, to furnish the federal govern- 
ment with an annual report of receipts and expenditures. 

The articles of incorporation, preserved in every subsequent revision 
of the Red Cross’s massive rights and duties on the American scene, 
provided precisely the recognition for which Clara Barton and her 
intimate followers had fought for almost twenty years. Yet they were 
written at a period when a dissident group of powerful names brought 
to bear every pressure possible to strip the aging leader of her au- 

While Red Cross operations were continuing in the midst of the 
Spanish-American War, there were restless stirrings in New York for 
businesslike management, particularly in the accounting for funds. At 
one point, when Steve Barton became disturbed by the pressure, Clara 
Barton wired her nephew, “If insisted on, refuse cooperation with 

In retrospect it seems that the doughty old lady was economical to 
the point of frugality in dispensing Red Cross assistance. But her mis- 
take was an imperious conviction that since she was the Red Cross 
leader the contributors should take her leadership as it was without 
question. She was not alone, in an era when Cornelius Vanderbilt, 
building up his railroad empire, said, “The public be damned.” 

But Clara Barton’s “public” — her most important contributors — 
were not the sort to accept such an altitude; they represented the 
business and the new businesslike attitude of a country that gave much 
to, and demanded much from, its publicly supported organizations. 

Support for the Red Cross by the New York leaders never wavered, 
but neither did their determination to make the Red Cross a truly pub- 
lie society. Notable in this contest was a public statement, signed by 
Bishop Henry C. Potter, Spencer Trask, Cleveland H. Dodge, Robert 
C. Ogden and Mrs. Whitelaw Reid; 

The undersigned persons, who, in times of previous activities 
and during the War with Spain, have been associated with the 
American National Red Cross, desire to state that in their judg- 
ment the financial arrangements of this organization need reor- 
ganization in order to meet the confidence of the American 



Beneath the surface, and far beneath the level of such dignified 
public statements, there was growing another schism that was to leave 
echoes haunting the Red Cross into the very period of its maturity fol- 
lowing World War I. 

Some have called it a power struggle. Others have termed it the 
normal progression of an organization grown out of the bands of its 
swaddling clothes. Whatever the cause or its true nature, there was 
shaping a battle royal, in which the Barton opposition was to rally 
around another woman of intense personal determination, and further- 
more a wealthy and ambitious ligure — Miss Mabel Boardman. 

Miss Boardman was the daughter of William Jarvis Boardman, a 
lawyer and businessman. Her mother, also wealthy in her own right, 
was the daughter of Joseph Earl Slicflicld, founder of the ShefRcld 
School of Yale University. This new' leader had been born in J 860 and 
was to live until 1946 She never married. In making the Red Cro.s.s 
her prime interest in life she was destined to dominate it or cast her 
shadow across it for a period far longer than the founding leader, 
Clara Barton. But with the vital dilTerencc that others shared her 

Seldom in organization history has the bitterness of an almost un- 
accountable haired so shadowed an otherwise noble progress. Even at 
this writing there is difliculty in placing the Barton-Boardman antag- 
onism in proper perspective, shorn of the personal animosities of the 
respective supporters and critics of the two women. And at this writ- 
ing it still is a notable fact liiat no memorial yet has been erected to 
Clara Barton in the national headquarters of the Red Cross, no re- 
minders of a personal nature save an engraving of her likeness hang- 
ing on the wall of the main floor corridor, and an oil painting on the 
second level. 

And it must be noted here that Miss Boardman, when she won 
control of the Red Cross from Miss Barton, lestrained her own ambi- 
tions to the point of refraining from c' cr seeking either the presidency 
or chairmanship of the Red Cross, either of which she might have had 
lor the asking. Officially she was simply a member of the Central 

A woman of majestic dignity, she suggested tlic late Queen Mary — 
so much so that when the Duke of Windsor, as Prince of Wales, met 
her in the 1920s he exclaimed, “My God, there's Mother.’’ 




Despite the conflicts raging around her, the earliest years of the twen- 
tieth century continued on the surface at least to be a triumph for 
Clara Barton, both in the field and throughout the world. At the age 
of seventy-eight, she took charge of a major disaster in the field, re- 
turned to Washington to beat down the first onrush of criticism and 
opposition, and emerged in such high fettle that in 1902 she would 
shatter seemingly overwhelming opposition ranged against her. 

Let us look at these occurrences in order, for they are part and par- 
cel of the Red Cross, the glory of its beginnings and the foundation of 
what was to come. 

On September 8, 1900, a tidal wave and hurricane swept over the 
port eity of Galveston, Texas. When it subsided, between 5,000 and 
6,000 of its 38,000 inhabitants were dead — so many that bodies were 
cremated in batches for the lack of means to give proper burial. Rich 
farmlands were inundated and every building suffered some damage. 
Thousands of survivors fled to Houston, abandoning everything that 
they owned. 

Within the shortest possible time after the news wires flashed de- 
tails of the eatastrophe across the country, Clara Barton and a staff' 
arrived on the scene, and she issued her now familiar call for relief 
— contributions of money or things. The New York World led the 
campaign for contributions in the cast, and the Wells Fargo Express 
Company conveyed supplies contributed to the Red Cross without 

Soon money and supplies estimated at a value of $120,000 were 
sent in response to Clara’s call, but the echoes of the inner struggle of 
the Red Cross floated like a cloud over this operation. 

For one thing, the contribution of the Red Cross, large as it was, 
figured as relatively minor in the total of contributions to Galveston’s 
needy. For another, a nasty controversy broke out on the spot. 

This latter stemmed from a report issued in Galveston by Mrs. Ellen 
Spencer Mussey, the Red Cross counsel, that Clara Barton was too 
old and ill to direct the work properly. Clara’s response was to trans- 
fer her work from a room in a hotel to more spectacular outdoor ac- 
tivities and to send Mrs. Mussey back to Washington. Thereafter Miss 
Barton worked literally day and night on the spot for two months. 

by authority of congressional charter 


And in late October she went to Houston to work for the rehabilita- 
tion of the Galveston refugees who had fled to that haven. 

This work completed, she returned to Washington, there to face 
again a barrage of criticism because there was no specific procedure 
for making an accounting of disposition of gifts to the National Red 

In Washington once more, however, the storms generated in New 
York seemed far away. 

In the White House was President McKinley, one of Clara Bar- 
ton’s staunchest friends. He had presented to her, in fact, the pen with 
which he had signed the bill incorporating the Red Cross. 

That bill had provided for the establishment of a Board of Control 
of the Red Cross. The biekering seemed to be one concerned with 
details, and details could not dent the leadership of the Founder and 
her old guard. And another year passed uneventfully, except for the 
inner-circle political maneuvering. Then, in September of 1901, an 
assassin killed McKinley. 

For the third time, the assassination of a President removed a sup- 
porter and powerful friend from Clara Barton’s circle. What had been 
only personal skirmishes within the Red Cross beeame, with the pass- 
ing of President McKinley, vital threats to the old guai d. 

Already, in January of 1901, the anti-Barton forees had put a series 
of resolutions through the Board of Control, consisting of sugar- 
coated criticism of Miss Barton. These resolutions bestowed high 
praise upon Miss Barton’s service and long devotion to the Red Cross, 
but also directed, among other thii gs, that thereafter “'all moneys for 
the American National Red Cros.> shall be paid to the Treasurer 
directly and shall be disbursed by him directly.” 

The Barton group responded to this implied criticism at the annual 
meeting in December of 1901 by pushing through reorganization 
abolishing the Board of Control and substituting for it a Board ot 

Now Miss Boardman’s leadership — that of a confident and inde- 
pendent woman in the prime of life — came into dominant view. And 
the goals of her leadership at their highest level Cxiibodied the concep- 
tion of an entirely new type of Red Cross — one controlled and led 
by the born or self-made leaders of American society, with emphasis 
on wealth and social prestige. Only such leadership, Miss Boardman 



contended, could attract to membership the wealthy individuals to 
whom the Red Cross must look for support if it was to become the 
national organization she envisaged. 

By 1902 the dissension had become so great that Clara Barton’s 
supporters were planning maneuvers to confer upon the president. 
Miss Barton, enlarged powers for life, apparently believing that she 
would live forever. 

The opponents of the elderly lady, while recognizing her strength 
as one of the best-known living American women and a great popular 
symbol, became equally convinced that their plans for the Red Cross 
of the future could sprout only in soil from which every vestige of 
Barton leadership had been torn. Since Miss Barton apparently never 
was going to die or resign, she must be dismissed. 

Now it was a clear-cut contest between the Boardman forces and 
the Barton forces. Ranged behind Miss Boardman were money and 
social position, plus now the President of the United States, for it was 
President Theodore Roosevelt who sat in the White House, and his 
sister, Mrs. Anna Roosevelt Cowles, was one of Miss Boardman’s 
strong allies. 

The Boardman forces worked to enlarge the Board of Directors. 
The Barton group concentrated on the gathering of proxies from 
chapter members, to obtain the required two-thirds vote necessary to 
change the bylaws and elect Miss Barton president for life. 

Apparently to the surprise even of Miss Barton, her administration 
won all along the line. The Board of Directors declined to enlarge its 
membership, and thereupon her proxy-gathering friends pushed 
through the life presidency. 

To Miss Barton, writing in her diary on Christmas Day, 1901, her 
own eightieth natal day, she confided, “The Red Cross is in the hands 
of its friends.” But opposition such as she faced hardly paused to 
catch its breath before hurling an attack far more destructive than 
the intramural voting at the new life president. 

On January 2, 1903, the same impetuous individual who, as a 
colonel in Cuba had praised Clara Barton’s Red Cross work, delivered 
as President the most devastating blow he could level at her leader- 
ship, shattering the cordial relationship that had existed for more than 
twenty years between the White House and the Red Cross. 




Opening her mail on January 2, Miss Barton found a curt note from 
George B. Courtelyou, secretary to the President, informing her that 
the President and his Cabinet declined to serve as a Board of Con- 
sultation for the Red Cross, an honorary body incorporated in Red 
Cross practice since the first small organization was chartered in the 
District of Columbia in 1881. 

The note cited reports from “ladies and gentlemen of high stand- 
ing” protesting against the manner in which the new bylaws had been 
adopted, as well as a recent resignation of the treasurer of the Red 
Cross in protest against the manner of aecounting for funds. Its crown- 
ing blow was notice that “the President directs me to have it publicly 
announced that the President and the Cabinet cannot so serve.” 

Miss Barton replied to this letter after days of hec.rt- searching 
thought, but her reply was never published. And in the meantime her 
opponents seemed intent upon hounding her out of the organization, 
in fact, students of the Red Cross are still confused as to the multi- 
farious course of events at that time, a matter of relatively small im- 
portance except for the ultimate results. It appears, however, that Miss 
Barton was confronted variously with offers by the opposition to retire 
her with a pension if she would resign or, on the other hand, to sub- 
ject her to a Congressional investigation if she remained in office. In 
the meantime the old lady was not sitting still, and the Executive 
Committee, under her control, suspended Miss Boardman and her 
principal lieutenants right after tl e threatened step by the latter to 
present a memorial to Congress had been taken. 

Throughout the year 1903, in which no major disaster or other 
event occurred to focus particular attention on the Red Cress, the 
intramural contest raged. But fever rose to such a pitch that the mi- 
nority group headed by Miss Boardman refused to attend the annual 
meeting in December, 1903. 

Clara Barton’s controlling faction accepted the conclusion that 
there was no alternative except to subject their leadership, and Miss 
Barton’s own conduct, to a public investigation. But the resolution 
passed at that time stipulated that the study should be made by the 
general counsel for the Red Cross rather than by a Congressional 



Since Richard Olney, former Secretary of State under President 
Cleveland, was the general counsel, this procedure was accepted by 
the minority. He in turn named a committee of three members, of 
which the chairman was Senator Redfield Proctor, who had studied 
Clara Barton’s work in Cuba. The other fellow committee members 
were General Fred C. Ainsworth and William Alden Smith. 

Judge Sheldon advised Clara that he felt too old and feeble to 
carry the burden of representing her, so she was represented by L. A. 
Stebbins and Thomas S. Hopkins, while Leigh Robinson represented 
the minority group. 

The battle actually seemed to stimulate Clara Barton, who was de- 
scribed by one reporter who interviewed her as “serene and confi- 
dent.” And she did not lack for well-wishers. The American Woman 
Suffrage Association made a point of inviting her to its Washington 
convention in February, 1903, where she stood beside her old friends, 
Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt. Soon thereafter the 
entire group of Spanish-American War veterans, meeting in conven- 
tion in Washington, went out to Glen Echo to pay their homage. 

When the investigating committee met, there were piles of evidence 
introduced by each side, but mostly it was inconclusive and so preju- 
diced as to hardly warrant the word. It became more and more evident 
that here was a washing of dirty linen in a contest that had little more 
meaning than a cat-and-dog fight between the “ins” and the “outs” of 
an organization both sides wished to control. 

The remonstrants pressed many charges, including one that Miss 
Barton might have diverted $12,000 worth of Russian relief contribu- 
tions to the purchase of a farm. But this farm had never been her 
personal property and it long since had reverted to its former owner- 
ship, when a project to turn it into a supplier of food for relief opera- 
tions failed to materialize. 

The end of the investigation came abruptly, when Senator Proctor 
declined to continue hearings and declared the whole affair “the most 
outrageous proceeding that has ever come under my investigation.” 

Of course, this was in many respects the worst thing he could 
have done. Miss Barton’s side claimed this as complete vindication. 
The remonstrants said the inconclusive nature of this termination was 

But the clarification of Red Cross atmosphere, which history was 


pressing to have accomplished, was worked out. On May 14, 1904, 
Clara Barton resigned from her lifetime presidency. Fortunately the 
prestige of Proctor and Olney was so great, and Miss Barton’s exit so 
graceful once her name had been cleared, that the way was left open 
for rebuilding of the Red Cross into the organization that the coun- 
try’s growth demanded. 

On June 16, 1904, a temporary authority was established under 
the presidency of Rear Admiral William K. Van Reypen, former 
Surgeon General of the Navy. 

As far as the public was concerned, the bitterness was ended and a 
nationally respected old lady retired to a well-earned rest. The Chicago 
Inter-Ocean, then a newspaper of national importance, wrote: “Clara 
Barton cannot resign her place in the world as the one real, true 
representative of the Red Cross in this country.’’ 

Within less than six months, early in January, 1905, tJ.c Red Cross 
was reincorporated by a new charter passed by Congress (written by 
John W. Foster) and immediately signed by Resident Roosevelt. 
I'his created in substance the Red Cross as we know it today; it 
evolved a form of organization that could not kill the bickering, as 
no law can, but which made the Red Cross both essentially scandal- 
pi'oof and a truly national organization. 

From the standpoint of organization, the “new” Red Cross an- 
swered almost every demand of the leacienship that at last had suc- 
ceeded Clara Barton. The «TOverning body was to consist of a Central 
Committee of eighteen members, of whom six wc)uld be elected by the 
incorporators, six would be chose "» by state and territorial societies, 
and six would be appointed by the President ot the United States. The 
last six would consist of the chairman of the Central Committee and 
five Cabinet members, representing the Departments of State. War, 
Navy, Treasury and Justice. Furthcrmoie. the new law provided that 
the War Department should annucllv audit the accounts of the Red 

Thus the Red Cross became at long last a quasi-oflicial organiza- 
tion, with its rights and privileges conferred by law, its unique inter- 
national status reaffirmed, its affairs set in order, and at the same time 
a public organization wholly supported by private contributions. 
William Howard Taft, a close friend of Miss Boardman, became the 
first president of the new corporation, and Surgeon General Van Rey- 



pen the first chairman of the Central Committee. Clara Barton's pre- 
eminence, now that she was stripped of power, was assured by her 
being named as the first of sixty-five “incorporators,” but the reor- 
ganization effectively wiped out the old guard, including the aging 
Judge Sheldon, bewhiskered and loyal Dr, Hubbell, and the nephew 
Steve, who had grown into middle age in the personal service of his 

Clara Barton severed completely her connection with the Red Cross, 
retiring to her home at Glen Echo. But she remained active until a 
few months before her death on April 12, 19-2, at the age of ninety. 
In her eight remaining years she organized the National First Aid 
Association of America, from which she sallied forth to attend many 
public meetings, and an increasingly introspective development caused 
her to study intensively the fad of spiritualism. 

+ + + + + 

and Reshaping 

Oespite all the fanfare over the “‘new” Red Cross, under its 
1905 charter the organization came perilously close to being a “pretty 
face with naught behind it.” It appears in retrospect to have been in 
1905 all names and no money, all authorization and no activity. And 
as for leadership in fact, it had torn itself apart to overturn a “one- 
woman leadership” only to settle down into the same state before the 
ink was dry on the signatures on the new document. 

Of names there was no lack. The sixty-five incorporators were a 
roll call of leaders in finance and industry. The Central Committee 
included dominant members of the President's Cabinet. Finally there 
was an Executive Committee, consisting of a fraction of the Central 

The president of the Red Cross was William Howard Taft, and the 
chairman was Major General George W. I.^avis, retired, a Civil War 

And hovering over all — the “boss” even of Taft and the only regu- 
lar attendant at meetings of the Executive Committee — w'as Mabel 
Boardman. suggesting, ordering, devising plans. 

Yet in the first year of its operation under the new charter the 
Red Cross resources were so meager that it spent only $2,902. Much 
of this came from a fund of $10,000 representing the resources turned 
over to the new organization by Clara Barton. There was a slight 




income from legacies and contributions, but the enrolled membership 
of the National Red Cross stood at only 3,337 persons. 

Under the Barton regime, when the Red Cross existed virtually 
as a name only between disasters, such an organization had sufficed. 
But it was intolerable to the new regime, which had set as its goal 
the creation of a truly national organization with divisions and chap- 
ters covering the country, ready to meet the demands upon itself that 
the Red Cross had set forth in framing its pattern of exclusivity. 

Something was needed to bridge the gap. The “something” became 
an obsession with the idea that the Red Cross should make itself the 
pet object of support by the wealthy, the socially prominent and the 
ambitious. And that was how it w'ent for more than a decade. 

This was the strength that Mabel Boardman brought to it, and this 
was the weakness that became so ingrained in the Red Cross structure 
that in the 1950s, at the broadest period of operations it had yet 
achieved in peacetime, the Red Cross needed the weightiest of pub- 
licity campaigns to muster the contributions necessary to finance the 
calls upon it. 

Many times in recent years the Red Cross has echoed a statement 
written into one of the earliest issues of the Red Cross Bulletin: 
“Publicity, in point of fact, is the great present need. Relatively few 
people know what the Red Cross is.” 

Fate must have realized this need, because in 1 906 the San Fran- 
cisco earthquake and fire gave the almost dormant organization a 
publicity opportunity of the best sort, the kind in which need and 
services could be demonstrated, without which even Miss Boardman’s 
energy and name-gathering might have failed to hold it together. 


On April 1 8, 1 906, hell itself seemed to explode in San Francisco. At 
this time, the Red Cross had no staff worth mentioning, no organiza- 
tion except a few scattered societies still torn apart by the feuding 
a year earlier, only a few thousand dollars in the till and not a single 
person trained in disaster relief. But it had a friend in the White House, 
now that Miss Boardman was its spark plug and Mrs. Cowles was her 
friend. And the friend. President Theodore Roosevelt, was impul- 
sively quick to act in all matters. 

groping and reshaping 


Without consulting even the Central Committee, President Roose- 
velt issued a public proclamation declaring the Red Cross to be the 
best-fitted organization to take over relief work in the stricken city! 

This was the responsibility publicly placed on an organization which 
hardly existed — to be responsible for sheltering more than 35,000 
temporarily homeless people, to feed at the period of greatest stress 
some 200,000 persons, to exert leadership in restoring the lives of 
one of the largest cities of the country. 

While Congress was hastily appropriating $2,500,000 to assist the 
stricken city, and business leaders in San Francisco were setting uji 
their own notable Committee of Fifty to cope with the crisis — and 
while countless other highly organized groups in other cities and states 
were swelling the generous outpouring of assistance — Roosevelt took 
another step that for sheer gall is almost without exception. 

He telegraphed Dr. Edward T. Devine, General Secietary of the 
Charity Organization Society of New York, already enroute to San 
Francisco, to represent the Red Cross there — in effect naming the 
embarrassed Dr. Devine as director general for a shadow organization 
taking precedence over local as well as other cooperative relief work. 
Dr. Devine accepted the assignment, stopped in Chicago to pick up 
Ernest Bicknell, a noted social-work directoi, and went on to San 
Francisco to prove himself both a prime diplomat and an able relief 

Within a few weeks, th’ R,-d Cross found its new staUire, sharing 
responsibility and working harmoniously with the San Francisco Com- 
mittee of Fifty. 

Once more the heart of poured out gifts, and the am- 
plitude of contributions undoubtedly lessened wiiat otherwusc would 
have been high tensions resulting from competition between hard- 
pressed relief groups. 

The Red Cross and the Committee of Fifty set up a rorporatior 
named the San Francisco Relief and Red Cross Funds. The corpora- 
tion eventually received and accounted for $8,537,871 in sub- 
scriptions alone. Of this total about one-third was given through the 
Red Cross — more money in fact than the Red Cross had collected 
for all of its relief work in all peacetime disasters prior to that time . 

Dr. Devine concluded his work with the organization phase of this 
operation. When he returned to New York, he delegated direction 



of the Red Cross work to Ernest Bicknell, who unknowingly began 
what was to be a quarter century of Red Cross service. 

Between the two men the Red Cross achieved a stature it had not 
had before, and in fact its work laid a protective covering over the 
feuds and petty quarrels, the ambitions and the jealousies that had 
threatened to smother its development. 

Much more was accomplished too. Here was an opportunity on 
the grand scale, considering the size of the country and its resources, 
for exemplification of cooperation with other organizations. In this 
case the working arrangement became one m which the United States 
Army handled emergency distribution of food and temporary shelter, 
both with government resources and the contributions to the Red 

Tbe Red Cross took over the longer-rangc task of rehabilitation. 
Here was further development of the primary idea behind the plan 
of Clara Barton, and further enrichment of what has since become 
the Red Cross's historic and primary, if not exclusive, disaster role. 

Almost as soon as the Army's tent shelters and bread lines were 
in operation, the Red Cross moved into the work of rehabilitation — 
floundering in the great mass of requests, unequipped by experience 
and dependent entirely on the size of contributions which as yet could 
not be measured. 

The city was divided into districts, each assigned to a volunteer 
committee. Mindful of past criticism, the Red Cross established an 
accounting system before all else. Devices were improvised for screen- 
ing and investigating requests; because unfortunately in all disaster 
rehabilitation operations, then as now, the chisclcrs and the cheats 
commingle generously with the honest persons. To this task came a 
host of social workers from agencies in San Francisco and other cities. 

The caution was almost too great. Delays and complaints threatened 
again to give the Red Cross a black eye. Then came another im- 
provisation; the establishment of a Bureau of Special Relief with 
authority to act quickly in cases of obvious and great need. Each of 
these steps was a landmark in building Red Cross experience. 

Since San Francisco is a damp city, and a chilly one, the first major 
job was to get residents out of tents and into weather-tight shelters. 
The answer to this problem was one of the first mass developments 
of portable houses. Families who agreed to build such small houses 

groping and reshaping 


in parks or other assigned open spaces were granted construction 
bonuses of one-third the cost, up to a limit of $500, with the under- 
standing that when the ruins were cleared the houses could be removed 
to normal residential sites. 

Next a system was set up of granting up to $500 to families as 
tide-over assistance until jobs and livelihoods could be restored. Some 
loans were made, but in these cases the Red Cross had its first and 
last sorry experience with disaster relief loans. 

The bad feeling arising from attempts to collect eventually resulted 
in cancellation of those still outstanding. Loans were never tried again 
in disaster relief. 

It is not unreasonable to assume that the old lady then living in 
retirement in Glen Echo chuckled underidandingly at seeing this re- 
sult from the violation of her own principle against lending money to 
persons in distress. 

In fact, the loan problem was not the only blatk eye that the Rod 
Cross had to nurse. There came eventually the old complaint about 
improper accounting of funds — not charges of dishonesty but of care- 
lessness. And there was another furor raised by millers when plans 
were announced to sell the surplus of the flour thev had contributed. 
The millers complained, with justification, that the dumping of their 
contributions on the market would break prices and ruin them as a 
result of their own gcnerc sit>. Finally an agreement was worked out 
for sale of the flour for export only. 

But on the whole, capitalizing * n its new experiences, a wiser Red 
Cross emerged from the San Francisco disastei work. The Overland 
Monthly gave it a treasured tribute: “When the people of San Fran- 
cisco regard the aftermath of the earthquake and fire in the growing 
perspective of time, the work of the Red Cross Society will be a,' 
predated more and more. The halt v an never be told of their devotion 
to their duty and their high ideals.” 

It may be fairly said that the Red Cross contributed mightily to 
the relief work in San Francisco, and it can be added with equal 
honesty that the experience and reputation gained by the new Red 
Cross in that work saved it from a questionable fate. After San Fran- 
ciseo the Red Cross was in business for keeps. 





It soon became apparent to the dedicated group in Red Cross organi- 
zation, however — and they were dedicated, whatever their individual 
motives — that even a San Francisco catastrophe could not alone make 
the Red Cross a vital element in the public mind. 

Miss Boardman and her Central Committee were cheered somewhat 
in 1906 when Red Cross membership (the total number of persons 
who contributed to it) rose to 9,262; but they fell back into glum 
depression when in 1907 the membership dropped to less than 6,000. 

Red Cross officials agreed that the public must understand the Red 
Cross and support it. One published statement frankly conceded, “No 
plan is worth considering which does not attract public attention, 
which is not natively interesting to the people.” And by people it 
meant multiple persons — everyone, everywhere. 

It was all very well to know that J. P. Morgan would write a 
handsome check every time an appeal was made for assistance in some 
headline disaster. But without continuing organization, a cadre of 
trained paid personnel, active volunteers with some degree of training 
in every locality, and a reserve fund to finance immediate first steps 
in any emergency, each new call on the Red Cross would be simply 
a repetition of past headaches and mistakes. 

The Red Cross was actually sitting on the horns of a dilemma of 
its own creation. Over a quarter century it had fought to become the 
recognized agency to handle on behalf of all the people the relief 
needs of the stricken. It had achieved that role in law, but no law 
or charter could make it so in fact without organization backed by 
mass support. 

And that support furthermore must be primarily in the form of 
money, which in responsible hands could be apportioned in rehabili- 
tation work where it would do the most good. Then, as in more 
recent years, the Red Cross found too often that contributions to 
sufferers represented the working off of surpluses that could not be 
sold in any event, and even when made with the best intention had 
no relationship to the realities of need. 

For instance, in the San Francisco experience, the millers who 
protested so vigorously about selling excess flour had dumped into 
San Francisco enough of the white stuff to fulfill the city’s normal 

groping and reshaping 


needs for fourteen years. Furthermore, the harassed relief workers 
found themselves holding a twenty-five-year supply of condensed milk 
and enough clam juice to meet normal requirements for a future 
extending from twenty-five to forty years. 

Now the Red Cross faced the dilemma of self-aggranf’izement as 
a necessary means of doing the job it was expected to do. And it 
began to take its case to the public. 

On the one hand it prepared documents almost legalistic in s:ope 
for the major societies whose support it must have. On the other, it 
hired a press agent. 

A case in point illustrating the former was a memorial written in 
1908 to the Trustees of the Russell Sage Foundation This said in 

Such requirements [chapter responsibiliiics] place i pvori the 
Society [Red Cross] the duty of instructing its members and the 
public at large in the methods best fitted to mKigate suffering 
after great calamities, for only by such study and instruction can 
a proper system be continued and carried on. The preparation 
for relief measures, if successful, must be made beforehand. No 
community is liable to suffer twice in a generation from a great 
calamity, so that experience gathered by local relief committees 
is not available for future use unless a general relief society such 
as the Red Cross is enabled by means of an experienced repre- 
sentative to collect and study the data provided by each success- 
ful [handling of a] calamity and furthermore, to impait the results 
of such study to the local Red Cioss branches ‘.vith instructions 
tis to successful relief methods. 

The press agent, E. R. Johnstone, was short-lived. This high-pressure 
expert was appointed at a salary of $ 6,00b a year and expenses, 
underwritten by some of Miss Boart n’ m's money'ed friends, early in 
1908. His work was to be part of a program to build up the Red 
Cross to a membership of 1,000,000 contributors and volunteer 

A jump from less than 6,000 members to 1,000.000 sounds overly 
ambitious. But there was a galling sting behind this goal. It was the 
fact that the United States, then at the peak of its “biggest-and-bestest’ 
boasting was anything but that, as far as the Red Cross in comparison 



with sister societies abroad was concerned. Many other countries had 
societies with memberships which would make even a million-member 
United States National Red Cross seem puny. In 1908 Japan had an 
enrolled Red Cross membership of nearly 2,000,000. In most Eu- 
ropean countries the Red Cross had become so well established and 
so important that it was operating large undertakings including hos- 
pitals, shelters, hospices and ambulance brigades. 

However, neither the high-sounding papers nor the press agent pro- 
vided the answer. The year 1908 closed with an American Red Cross 
enrollment of less than 12,000 names, and the promoter had long 
since been fired. 

The Red Cross had moved, however, into an appreciation of the 
need for something broader than the exclusive group courted and led 
by Miss Boardman, and it must be slated to her credit that she led the 
move for change. 

In 1 908 the first professional welfare worker of national reputation 
joined the Red Cross as paid director of activities. The new man, and 
the shaper of the Red Cross in its professional activities for a quarter 
century to come, was Ernest Bicknell, who had served and perhaps 
saved the Red Cross at San Francisco. 

Now, with Miss Boardman’s loyal legion and Bickncll's professional 
talents as organizer and money-raiser, the Red Cross had its feet 
planted solidly on the ground. It would move slowly, but always ahead. 

+ + + + + 

and Programs 

There certainly was no financial inducement for Ernest Bick- 
ncll to cast his lot with the Red Cross in 1908. His own words show 
the grim humor with which he surveyed Ihc job he was embracing: 

For an organization of such meager resources, the ponderous 
machinery provided for in the new charter and the formidable 
objects .set forth impressively in that charier, may have seemed 
to some critics rather incongruous. With Mr. Taft at the head 
and Mr. de Forest as vice-president; with a Central Committee of 
eighteen members of whom six were appointed by the President 
of the United States to represent 'tie Government; with a Board 
of Incorporators of sixty-five eminent citizens /epresenting the 
country at large; with an annual audit by the War Department 
and a report to the Congress — gaze on all this front and then 
look into Room 341, State, War and Navy Building, and see 
Miss Boardman and three paid empK-yces, a handful of decrepit 
furniture and a total annual income (T $20,000. 

So there was the challenge, only two years after the San Francisco 
disaster was presumed to have .settled once and for all the stature and 
prestige of the Red Cross — in fact, its unique status as the sole rec- 
ognized legal agency of the public to organize and supervise relief 
and rehabilitation of victims of national disasters. 




Now Miss Boardman and Bicknell, with the support of the “pon- 
derous machinery” of committees set about establishing a system of 
financial accounting that would be above reproach before seeking out 
substantial contributions. This plan provided for the separation of 
endowment funds, special relief funds, and contingent and general 

The endowment fund was to be, and is, an untouchable capital 
fund from which only the interest may be used, like a family trust. 
Controlled by a special board of trustees, the income from the endow- 
ment fund was to be used to cover overhead expenses. Special relief 
funds were to consist of the contributions received in response to 
appeals for great disasters, with all receipts and expenditures sepa- 
rately accounted for, on the basis of each particular job. The general 
and contingent fund was to comprise, in addition to interest on the 
endowment, annual membership dues, incidental receipts and a tax 
of 5 per cent on gross receipts from relief contributions, to cover 
the extra and special overhead costs involved in operating special 
relief assignments. 

The only problem in this scheme was that ingenuity still was re- 
quired to raise money so carefully earmarked for these funds. Mem- 
bership dues, in fact, only climbed to $1 9,377 by 1915. 

But in 1908 the Red Cross first hit the jackpot by introducing a 
project long since forgotten as an original Red Cross program, but 
still a fantastically successful money-raiser for the cause it was de- 
signed to assist. This was the project to sell Christmas seals to finance 
anti-tuberculosis work. The idea was a discovery rather than an in- 
vention, and credit was freely given for that fact. 

Miss Emily Bissell was at that time secretary of the Delaware Red 
Cross Chapter. She read in a random article about the sale of tu- 
bereulosis stamps in Denmark and passed the idea along to National 
Headquarters. It evolved into a plan for Red Cross volunteers to sell 
such seals in sheets of 100 at a dollar a sheet (inflation has never 
changed the original price). The Red Cross was to bear all expenses 
in return for a percentage of the take — first set at one-third and later 
redueed to 10 per cent. 

Gross receipts from the stamps hit $165,899 in 1908 on the first 
try. By 1916 sales topped $1,000,000. 

In 1918 the Red Cross decided to turn the whole project, and all 

progress and programs 


financial rights in it, over to the National Tuberculosis Association 
within the next year. But in the decade that the Red Cross developed, 
promoted and sold the seals, it was oflicially estimated that sales 
aggregated $5,652,500, from which the Red Cross took a total of 
$496,800 and made a profit of $285,000. 

This project alone would have justified Mr. Bicknell’s work with 
the Red Cross, but it was only one of many ingenious developments. 
In the meantime, moving a little more slowly but relentlessly, Miss 
Boardman was hammering away at the endowment project. It got 
under way in 1910, with a public announcement by President Taft. 

The endowment goal was $2,000,000. Typical of the thinking led 
by Miss Boardman — that the Red Cross appeal should be made pri- 
marily to people of wealth — was the fact that one-fourth of the quota 
w'as assigned to New York, where the biggest money was to be found. 
Henry P. Davidson accepted the chairmanship of the endowment 
campaign in New York and J. P. Morgan led off the subscription 
list with a gift of $100,000 conditional on others making up the re- 
mainder of the half million. By December, President Taft was able 
to announce the successful conclusion of the New York campaign. 

But the half million dollars raised in this manner in New York 
was in a way a handicap that might never have been overcome by 
the Red C.'ross but for the later occurrence of wars that gave the public 
a feeling of self-participation in the organization's work. 

Hardly anyone of moderate means contributed to the endowment 
fund; in fact, there was no public appeal made at all. Only sixteen 
persons, the records show, gave less than $2,000 and seven persons 
gave an aggregate of $300,000. 

The failure of the campaign to give the general public a feeling 
of participation in the work of the Red Cross was amply demonstrated 
W'hen the effort to raise the endownment fuiid was carried to other 
parts of the countiy. Special campaigns were staged in sixty-two other 
cities. In only eight were the assigned quotas, based on population 
and community wealth, successful. The only individual outside of New 
York who contributed $10,000 or more was William J. Boardman, 
father of Miss Boardman. Two years after the endowment-fund effort 
had been started only half of the goal of $2,000,000 had been 



This meant that not only was the general public little interested in 
the Red Cross as a continuing national movement, but the very 
planning which had started the endowment campaign in New York had 
apparently alienated the support of the thousands of wealthy and lead- 
ing figures in other cities. 

There was one happy note of contrast to this apparent apathy 
toward making the Red Cross a secure and self-supporting endowed 
institution. When disasters occurred, whatever the type or cause, there 
was an immediate and generous outpouring of contributions. Nothing 
anywhere comparable to the San Francisco disaster was to occur in 
the next decade, but in the years prior to 1917 the public which had 
contributed through the Red Cross almost $3,000,000 to the San 
Francisco victims also gave another $8,000,000 in response to appeals 
on behalf of the victims of other major calamities. 


While bending administrative energies toward money-raising, the Red 
Cross was branching out in another undramatic but methodical path 
to identify itself with the sources whose support it must have — the 
communities of America. This was in line with Bicknell’s determina- 
tion to do things that would attract the sympathy, the support and 
the self-identification of persons whose desire for public service was 
large out of all proportion to their bank balances. 

At first an effort was made to align the Red Cross with other 
established agencies in the welfare and social-service fields. But this 
plan did not work very well. There was plenty of cooperation but 
some complained that there was no Red Cross identification. 

Yet much that made the Red Cross great in the field, and that set 
a pattern for chapter development in later years, came from the 
cooperative work with other agencies whose personnel were enrolled 
as “institutional members.” For instance, James F. Jackson, head of 
the Cleveland (Ohio) Associated Charities, and a Red Cross disaster 

A skilled and methodical man, Jackson put together a personal 
disaster kit — rough clothes, disaster-relief needs, stationery, registra- 
tion cards and a Red Cross flag — and he asked the newspapers to 

progress and programs 


notify him if anything in the way of a disaster in the surrounding 
territory should occur. 

With his usual warm humor, Bicknell wrote down an episode in 
tribute to this pioneer Red Cross disaster-relief worker: 

To his immense satisfaction, the looked-for disaster happened. 

A cloudburst in the panhandle of West Virginia drowned eight 
persons and destroyed a large amount of property. For Jackson, 
everything worked exactly as planned. He was called by tele- 
phone from his bed. He dashed off with all equipment, caught a 
train, reached the scene of disaster almost before the prostrated 
community had fully comprehended the extent of its calamity 
and calmly opened headquarters with the Red Cross flag flying 
over the door. He organized the relief and carried it through with 
the help of a local committee. I visited the scene later and found 
the community unanimous in warm gratitude to that “big Red 
Cross man” who had come so promptly, almost inysteriously to 
iheir aid. 

But such sporadic activities were not enough, whether by cooper- 
ating volunteers or by members of Red Cross chapters. Each effort 
in this direction proved that if the Red Cross was to grow it must 
grow by the route of showing how badly it was needed, every day in 
the year. And to be ready for disasters and war it must have within 
itself the nucleus of trained personnel and skills so urgently required 
to direct and spearhead emergency operations. 

What was more natural than to turn to the nursing field, in which 
the Red Cross already was charterea to recruit in time of war and 

In 1909 Miss Boardman broached a suggestion to ally the Red 
Cross with the Federation of Nurses in recruiting nurses under the 
general direction of the War Relief Board. This opened the field 
whereby in succeeding years professional nurses were to become not 
only the symbol of the Red Cross most generally pictured on posters 
and in campaigns, but the first general group of professionals who 
served on call in the Red Cross as unpaid volunteers. 

Here again, circumstances brought into the Red Cross a woman 
with talents making her one in a million — a figure as commanding in 
her own right as Clara Barton or Mabel Boardman, although one 



without the personal ambition or organizing drive of the other two, 
except in her own special field. 

This woman, number three in the long history of Red Cross leaders, 
who entered the Red Cross rolls in 1909, was Jane Delano. She was 
to leave those rolls only in 1919, when she died on duty in France, 
but not from wounds, soon after the close of World War I. 

Born in 1862, Jane Delano was one of the pioneers of the modern 
type of nurse, and in addition a handsome woman, almost beautiful, 
with a warm personality that glows out from the portraits painted 
during her lifetime. When she joined the Red Cross as chairman of 
the National Committee on Red Cross Nursing Service, Miss Delano 
was the recently appointed superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps, 
which had come into being in 1901. She already had been director 
of the nursing school at Bellevue Hospital, New York, outstanding 
among its kind. But more important from an organizational sense was 
experience with the Red Cross reaching far back into its pioneer days 
under Clara Barton. 

In 1886, when Jane Delano was only twenty-four years old and a 
fledgling nurse, she had been one of a handful of nurses to volunteer 
for special work with victims of the yellow fever outbreak in Florida, 
and her interest in the nursing phases of Red Cross activities had been 
continuous for virtually all of her adult life. 

It was the luck of the Red Cross to obtain such a figure to guide 
development of its first professional volunteer corps because, disguise 
such feelings as we may, there always has been and always will be a 
hesitancy on the part of skilled professional personnel to place them- 
selves as volunteers at the sole disposal of amateurs. 

As it turned out, the success of the program hinged on two prime 
factors: First was the professional direction. Second was the require- 
ment that only nurses with the highest professional standing would 
be accepted. Thus from the start the Red Cross nurse became a mem- 
ber of an elite corps. 

But Miss Delano recognized that the Red Cross could do far more 
with its nurses than simply hold their skills in abeyance for possible 
wartime eall. Had there not been a peacetime program of solid and 
rewarding service opportunities the Red Cross would not have been 
able to enroll 8,000 nurses who were ready when World War I broke 
over the United States. 

progress and programs 


How were the nurses used? In the first instance, the professionals 
assisted in establishing a basic Red Cross function — ^training for 
women in home hygiene, family health care and as nurses’ aides. In 
disasters the nurses went as volunteers on field work, and by 1915 
Red Cross nurses were serving as volunteers with hospital units sent 
to France, Belgium, Germany and Serbia, among other European 

Coincident with the start of the Red Cross nurse program was 
established the Red Cross First Aid Department, a former pet of 
Clara Barton’s, but dropped by the new regime as impraetieal and 
beyond the financial resources of the Red Cross, Impetus for it actu- 
ally came from the field, where the state and local chapters, after 
surviving the bruises of the reorganization quarrels, began to show 
signs of ambitious activity. 

New York was one chapter that simply had refused to abandon 
first-aid work and training and had built up “trained relief columns” 
that were winning a national reputation. This single chapter “covered” 
President Taft’s inauguration in Wa.shinglon in 1909 with a corps of 
trained workers manning twenty-four stations along the route of the 

This ground swell from outside finally prodded the national organi- 
zation in Washington to approach President Taft in 1909 with a 
request to designate an Army medical otticer as national director of 
the First Aid Department. Major Charles Lynch, whom he named, 
has lost out in the listing among notable pioneers in the Red Cross, 
but in many ways his pioneering was comparable to that of Jane 

Already experienced as a volunteer Red Cross lecturer on first aid, 
he accepted the assignment and plunged into a whole new field of 
industrial training in first aid. The anachronism of red tape required, 
it seems, that the Red Cross give first-aid training only as part of its 
war-preparedness program, so Major Lynch worked under the super- 
vision of the War Relief Board. But he and his staff soon were deep 
in the midst of devising and promoting training programs for a wide 
range of industrial groups including miners, lumbermen and telephone 
and telegraph employees. 

The Pullman Company provided a special touring training car. A 
program was developed to promote railway safety. The cooperation 



of the Y.M.C.A., closely affiliated with railroad workmen, was ob- 
tained, and countless manuals and training guides were published. The 
first-aid handbook was thus taken to the host of immigrant workmen 
in their own languages, particularly Polish, Italian and Slavic. 

While membership remained low, and money for administrative 
operations was still hard to obtain, the Red Cross — or shall we say 
Miss Boardman and Bicknell — ^kept selling the Red Cross through 

In 1912, whether voluntarily or by prompting one cannot say. 
President Taft requested development of stii’ another program that 
has since been tightly locked into Red Cross primary activities — water 
safety. The populace of the United States was taking to the water in 
great numbers for the first time — swimming in it, boating on it, and 
fishing. And individuals were drowning themselves with appalling 
frequency. As a result, when President Taft made his request the 
public was ready for the program. 

Thus it came about that the Red Cross, while continuing to func- 
tion with increasing efficiency in great disasters, found itself an or- 
ganization that was reaching the people, its work seen and felt by 
millions; fully accepted as a cooperating society by industry, by or- 
ganized labor and by such other popular organizations as the Ys, the 
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. 

A few statistics tell a graphic story of some of the accomplishments 
in this new phase of work, generally described as preventive work, 
reached in the year 1916, just before a great war cast its challenge 
to the organization. In that year alone; 

Certificates for completion of first-aid training were issued to 10,000 
men and women. 

Sales of first-aid textbooks and training kits approximated $50,000. 

One thousand members were enrolled in 1 5 1 life-saving and water 
safety corps. 

Special cars traveled 21,000 miles carrying staffs that gave safety 
lectures and demonstrations to 66,000 railroad employees. 

This was a far cry from the original design of the Red Cross at 
Geneva, to create a “neutral” corps to assist the wounded in time of 
war. It marked at the same time a long step toward development 
of the dream of Clara Barton, which she fought through Geneva in 
1 884 as the American Amendment. 

progress and programs 



The disaster work of the Red Cross in these years itself became a 
testimonial to the value of the intrusion by the organization into more 
prosaic training fields. Experienced hands, in the chapters as well as 
with Bicknell in Washington, were learning how to use their new 
machinery, and to look with imagination on the true meaning of re- 
lief and rehabilitation. And Miss Boardman was expounding a run- 
ning flow of common sense. 

The Red Cross saw that its mission was to help victims over the first 
hard steps toward rehabilitation. It never could become an agency 
using contributed funds as insurance policies to replace all losses. It 
could supply the machinery to train and organize relief work, but it 
always must work with other like-minded organizations, never try to 
dominate or displace them. There always have been and always will 
be violations of such hard-learned rules, but the pattern was set. 

In San Francisco some of these lessons had been proved, but at 
the price to the Red of a.ssuming a secondary role. By 1913, 
when the Ohio River again went on a historic flood rampage, the 
Red Cross found it had won its spurs. 

In March of that year, the Ohio gave a repeal performance of the 
1 884 flood which had drawn Clara Barton to the scene. But in twenty- 
nine years there had been a multiplication of population and of values 
of property to be lost. On ihe night of March 25, at the end of five 
days of torrential rainfall, the ordinarily placid river became so flooded 
by its tributaries that its waters v.ped out scores of communities, 
buried all its banks under water and obliterated $200,000,000 worth 
of property. It left an estimated 300,000 persons dependent on 
emergency relief supplies, 3,000 families homeless and 70,000 other 
families without shelter until their dwellings could be restored. 

Governor Cox simply handed the problem to the Red Cross, first 
by establishing the Ohio Flood Relief Commission — composed almost 
exclusively of members of the State Board of the Red Cross — and 
then by designating the National Red Cross as administrator of the 
relief program. 

Such was the change in social and economic conditions that the 
same Red Cross which had expended $175,000 in relief following the 
Ohio River flood in 1884 now faced a $3,000,000 job. 



The money tells such a small fraction of the story. Through its 
National Committee on Nursing Service the Red Cross was able to 
mobilize 238 needed nurses and 66 experienced social workers — all 
working regularly with other organizations but available as Red Cross 
volunteers. Relief headquarters were established in forty-three com- 
munities. And the job was done. After the immediate relief work 
there was the long, hard problem of fair and humane assistance in 

The total of nurses mobilized in this flood of the Ohio turn from 
a statistic into an example of how the chapi.'rs, normally dozing in 
quiet reserve at that period until summoned to relief work, responded 
to calls upon them. The nurses had been enrolled by chapters, and 
were an important part of the rolls of volunteers who made their 
living otherwise, but dropped all routine to respond to Red Cross calls. 

Seventy-seven of these went to duties assigned by the Cincinnati 
committee within forty-eight hours after the flood struck. Within an- 
other two days the force of trained specialists was augmented by 
details from Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland and other cities, 
some far from the flooded areas. 

This corps of volunteers from the chapters staffed emergency relief 
stations and dispensaries and augmented hard-pressed hospital staffs. 
And when the waters subsided, leaving a fdm of slime and decayed 
filth everywhere, the nurses methodically went through the mess, into 
refugee quarters and occupied residential quarters, instructing and 
showing what to do to avoid possible epidemics. 

A contemporary report from Dayton at the time reads: 

A city street, river mud and debris piled high on either side; 
houses off their foundation or entirely washed away; a very dif- 
ferent looking “Red Cross lady,” serenely picking her way around 
wrecked furniture, sodden mattre.sses, ruins of porches and sheds; 
wearing rubber boots, skirt kilted high, wet nearly to the waist, 
sending sick people to the hospitals, inspecting plumbing, back 
yards and cellars; superintending all sorts of work from feeding 
the baby to the digging of trenches. . . . 

In such cases the American Red Cross’s national headquarters co- 
ordinated the work that was done, but the working force of the Red 
Cross came out of America’s crossroads. 

progress and programs 


In the midst of the latter problem, Bicknell wrote a report that 
almost constitutes the permanent Red Cross testament as to what it 
can do and cannot do, something always to be remembered by both 
the friend and the critic of the Red Cross: 

A month has passed since the flood occurred. Cities and towns 
are rapidly cleaning and repairing their streets, removing their 
debris and setting their public utilities in order. Emergency relief 
activities have been gigantie and have aecomplished wonders. 
The excitement and rush have passed. The inspiration and en- 
thusiasm in helpfulness aroused by the danger and suffering of 
many thousands of fellow men are subsiding. 

And now eomes the true test of our effieiency. Our work is 
only fairly begun. It must go forward without the in.spiration of 
early days. Family by family we must calmly and syinpaMictically 
consider the right thing to be done for each. We are dealing with 
individual problems, eomplex, various, infinite. We cannot restore 
losses. Our relief fund is not an insurance fund. The amount of a 
family's losses is not an index to the relief which may be afforded 
it. The only guide for us is the extent of each family's need and 
its inability to re-establish itself. We must do what is necessary to 
help the hardest hit family to its feet and start it forward in self- 
support. Only that. Our fund will not permit more. 

Now, in addition to the o-called natuial disasters, the Red Crofs 
was receiving calls for another form of assistance in the cases of in- 
dustrial disasters, important here on!- because they set two precedents. 

One notable case was the explosion in a mine in the little town 
of Cherry, Illinois, which caught 500 miners below ground, and 
resulted in the entombment of half of them. Here was the first instance 
of the Red Cross accepting responsibility for relief in such a disaster. 

From many sources as well as Red '^ross contributions came con- 
tributions of more than .$400,000 to assist the survivors, mostly of 
foreign origin and many speaking no English. Instead of handing out 
proportionate capital sums of relief money, the Red Cross put into 
operation its first deferred-pension plan, with monthly payments to 
widows and orphans. The sequel was reported as follows: “This 
scheme worked out successfully, and because so many of the widows 
remarried after the mine was reopened and new workers moved to 



Cherry, the monthly allotments of the remaining widows were later 

The test worked out so successfully, in fact, that it was the model 
for similar operations when in 1911 a fire in New York, the historic 
Triangle Waist Company holocaust that caused revision of fire laws, 
claimed 145 lives and caused serious injury to 70 others among the 
workers in the loft building. 

In sum, the Red Cross, rather than struggling for recognition, be- 
came in a decade after 1905 the disaster-relief agency which, instead 
of having to offer its services, was expected to answer those calls by 
a public that had nowhere else to turn for similar assistance. 

+ + + + + 

War and 
Its Challenges 


I ROM 1905 TO 1914 the American Red Cross kept its part of the 
bargain to assist sufferers of disasters in foreign countries to the extent 
of raising and distributing about $3,000,000. Of this sum, $1,000,000 
went to one vast effort, relief of sufferers from an epochal earthquake 
that struck Messina, Italy. Another million was spent in China, and 
there were few parts of the world that did not receive something. 

But all of this practice in international operations was dwarfed in 
fact, the stature of the Red Cross itself in the prewar years appeared 
puny — ^by contrast with the opportunities and the expansion that 
started slowly in 1914 and exploded in 1917. The Red Cross would 
never again be as it had been in the quiet years. 

The new era in Red Ooss development was graphically symbolized 
on September 12, 1914, when a gleaming white ship, christened for 
its voyage The Red Cross, steamed out of tne Narrows separating Nev' 
York Harbor from the Atlantic Ocean and headed for Europe. 

The ship aroused almost as much rhapsody in prose from the pen of 
Miss Boardman as earlier Red Cross exploits had called forth from 
Clara Barton. The former, usually more identified with the prosaic 
writing of businesslike statements, jotted down: 

Cheered by the crowds on the passing boats and saluted by the 
flags of all nations from the many steamers lying at their docks. 




she went. As the white ship passed the great statue in the harbor. 
Liberty for the moment seemed to grasp in her uplifted hand the 
flag of the Red Cross flying from the foremast, and to hold it 
forth as a token of America’s sympathy for suffering Europe. 

The chartered ship was unique and, despite some adverse criticism, 
as a symbol, a successful venture at the moment. Aboard it as passen- 
gers, with their supplies as freight, were 170 surgeons and nurses re- 
cruited by the Red Cross, divided into units of three surgeons and 
twelve nurses each. One team or more was being dispatched to each 
country involved in the European war that had broken out in the pre- 
vious summer. 

Here was a new type of Red Cross venture, the cultivating of a new 
field of humane activity, almost spontaneously conceived and under 
way before there had been more than a hint of public reaction. Miss 
Boardman personally and alone is credited with the idea, acting as 
precipitously as Clara Barton once had been accused of acting in any 
earlier day by the Boardman group itself. 

When news of the European war flashed to America, Mabel Board- 
man was vacationing at Murray Bay, Canada, the fashionable resort 
where one of her neighbors was former President Taft, who held the 
title of chairman of the organization’s Central Committee. She hur- 
ried to Washington and personally directed the sending of cables to 
sister Red Cross Societies in England, France, Germany, Austria- 
Hungary, Russia, Belgium, Serbia and Holland, offering American 

On August 3, 1914, appeals for a special relief drive were sent out 
from National Headquarters simultaneously with the proposal for the 
relief ship. Something of a record was set with dispatch of the ship 
one month and nine days later. 

On the whole the project was popular, although there was some 
editorial criticism and serious question as to how badly it was needed 
at the time. But any doubts raised by the project were dispelled by 
the public itself. Before the ship had unloaded its teams and supplies 
in Europe, contributions covering its cost of $350,000 already were 
in hand, and before the end of 1914 more than $1,000,000 had been 
collected in response to this appeal alone. 

Later additions to the complement of the Red Cross — ^it was popu- 



larly known as the “Mercy Ship”— brought to sixteen the total of 
American Red Cross teams assisting the nations then at war, trying 
in so far as possible to provide neutral relief. 

In keeping with the chart curves of response to all such activities, 
contributions that so quickly reached a million dollars soon tapered 
off. Up to 1917 only one more million was added to the first, but in 
the meantime, the American Red Cross had written a new chapter in 
its history and learned much from the experience. 

The Red Cross teams actually saw the European war from as many 
differing angles, according to their assignments, as the reports about 
the elephant written by a group of blind men from variously examining 
it with their hands. 

In England two teams settled down to their work in a traditionally 
luxurious house in South Devon. The French government contributed 
to its volunteers a former casino. Germany and Austria supplied the 
typically efficient hospital units that were required^ But in Russia the 
Red Cross workers had to cool their heels through a long wait, 
until they were located in a renovated building of the Polytechnic In- 
stitute at Kiev. 

Closest to tragedy, and involved in actual battle, eventually were the 
three teams assigned to Belgrade, in what then was Serbia and now is 
Yugoslavia. Working in unsanitary conditions of the worst sort, the 
teams had to fight a typhus epidemic, which they conquered, and 
eventually treat battle casualties direct from a front a stone’s throw 
away when a battle was waged in Belgrade. 

The story of this service, involving much self-sacrifice on the part 
of the 350 surgeons and nurses who eventually worked in it, could be 
dropped right here with a bow to its glory. Actually, however, it was a 
rather sorry experience until time healed some of its bruises and the 
film of propaganda could be cleared away from the facts. 

In October, 1915, all the teams ^' cre withdrawn from Europe. In 
fact, before 1914 was ended, plans were being made to do this as fast 
as could be gracefully done. The slackening off in contributions made 
the project financially insupportable. Britain’s blockade of Germany 
was not relaxed even for the shipment of supplies to the Central 
Powers, on the ground that there was no means of differentiating be- 
tween Red Cross supplies for generally humane purposes and those 
that might be of military value to Britain’s enemy. And there was a 



less defined but broadening question about the element of intrusion in 
the affairs of other countries involved in this gesture. It was techni- 
cally and legally within Red Cross charter rights, but still a long way 
from either the Clara Barton Civil War precedent or the pattern of 
disaster relief. 

In a moment of frankness a decade later, Ernest Bicknell wrote: 

I, for one, harbor a suspicion that these countries which ac- 
cepted these units found that the accompanying responsibilities 
largely outweighed the benefits; while, on fhe other hand, I have 
reason to believe that the American surgeons and nurses in many 
instances felt that the conditions under which they worked were 
cramping and irritating. 

With the “Mercy Ship” venture ended, the Red Cross switched to a 
policy of assistance to, and cooperation with, other organizations con- 
ducting relief operations for all war victims, and prior to April, 1917, 
extended aid to 130 of these. In this the Red Cross took a back seat. 

It became clear that, lacking direct involvement by the United 
States in any war, there was no more than lukewarm support for any 
Red Cross overseas war-relief program. Earthquakes, famines, plagues 
— ^these were fields accepted by the public as proper Red Cross respon- 
sibilities, but apparently not indiscriminate relief of populaces whose 
governments had ordered them to shoot at each other. Right or wrong, 
the psychology existed : 

But should the United States become involved? 

No one could guess the result, to be so graphically demonstrated in 

And future perspective indicates the jotting down here of a few 
simple facts about the Red Cross in 1917. It had at that time less than 
$200,000 in working funds, it consisted of 267 chapters and a total 
paid staff of 1 67 men and women specialists. But around these bones 
of organization existed the nucleus of the future greatness of the 
Red Cross — ^the professionally trained volunteers and the willing hands 
of untrained volunteers who, when needed, would respond by the 

Herein lay the as yet unknown strength of the Red Cross, when the 
public was convinced that it was needed to do a job. And the new 
Red Cross that was to emerge would bring into being the third genera- 



tion of leaders, the new America of business and professional men — 
with heavy emphasis on men rather than women — and men, too, who 
from the moment they took control would sweep out the influence and 
in most cases the actual personalities of the old hierarchy. 

Their rise marked the decline and fall of the dominance personi- 
fied by Mabel Boardman, the leisurely gentleman-politicians repre- 
sented by William Howard Taft, and the social position that had sat 
securely on Mrs. Whitclaw Reid’s throne. 

Only twelve years separated 1905 from 1917, but there was a full 
generation of change for the snug group that had taken over the Red 
Cross from the pioneers and so recently built an imposing edifice in 
V/ashington — financed, of course, by their own group — as the emblem 
of their dominance. 


Within twenty-four hours after severance of diplomatic relations with 
Germany by the United States, on February 3, 1917, the third phase 
of the American Red Cross began to take shape, as Eliot Wadsworth, 
acting chairman of the Central Committee, under Mr Taft's titular 
chairmanship, telegraphed the 267 Red Cross chapters to be prepared 
immediately for all eventualities. 

This preparation began now in earnest, with enrollment of volun- 
teers — 8,000 loyal nurses already were on the rolls — preparations for 
intensified work in the field of readying hospital supplies and shaping 
basic resources into units for duty. 

The chapters, be it remarked, not all waited for this call. Far- 
seeing men and women, whose names weic not even known to the 
tight little hierarchy that held the reins in Washington, had assumed 
responsibilities in their communities far beyond routine. As one ex- 
ample, there existed, as organized units, the personnel and supplies for 
twenty-six base hospitals to go wi:e rover the Army needed them and 
could supply quarters. Here was an echo of the experience gained by 
the experimental “Mercy Ship” operations that paid dividends. 

But even these preparations were paltry compared with the de- 
mands that some foresighted Red Cross leaders could see in the ofl&ng. 
Money and personnel far beyond any prior effort would be needed, 
and these must be obtained in competition with all the other forces of 



Wadsworth took the picture directly to President Wilson, with a 
plan for action that marked him as the Red Cross leader of the hour. 
He saw the need for big leadership, big plans and big money. And 
President Wilson agreed. Furthermore, Wadsworth was a man big 
enough to subordinate his own personality in a program to bring these 

On April 21 the first meeting was held by the new leadership, the 
type of men that Wadsworth and President Wilson needed for the Red 
Cross, and they heard the keynote talk of the meeting delivered by a 
man as big as themselves. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. 

“There is simply no measure of our opportunity,” Baker told the 
audience he faced. “It is limitless and everything we can do will fall 
short of what could be done if our means were larger.” 

Such words, and their source, made sense to the group, which in- 
cluded Henry P. Davison, now a fifty-year-old partner in the house of 
J. P. Morgan and Co., Cleveland H. Dodge, John D. Ryan, George 
W. Hill, and Jesse H. Jones. 

The conversation at that meeting dealt with sums of money and a 
Red Cross organization potential that would have been laughed to 
death had the conferees been simply a collection of professional do- 
gooders. But these men were serious, and they were practical. Further- 
more, they would be the principal contributors. The first item on the 
agenda was a fund-raising campaign, with talk of figures as high as 
$25,000,000 to $50,000,000. Wadsworth pushed the goal for the 
first drive up to $100,000,000. (This was oversubscribed early in 

But it all had to be tidy and businesslike. Big activity would demand 
big management, and meticulous planning. In one letter Cleveland 
Dodge put down on paper what this meant, when he wrote to Colonel 
E. M. House, the right-hand man of President Wilson: 

The great trouble is that the business men of the country today 
have not much confidence in the Red Cross due largely to the 
fact that until comparatively recently the organization of the Red 
Cross was not effective. The organization in the last year has been 
thoroughly reorganized, and is first rate as far as it goes, but it is 
utterly inadequate to cope with any enlargement of work. 



So in effect business took over, but with such regard for the delica- 
cies of the job that the chapters — ^now heart and soul of the Red Cross 
in national mobilization — ^liked what they saw, and approved. 

There was established a War Council, including the leading figures 
already named. Mr. Taft was doubtful about the legality of such a 
move under the Red Cross charter, and his views as chairman of the 
Central Committee were respected, because after all he had become 
almost the patriarch of the rechartered Red Cross. The problem was 
solved by making the War Council a temporary substitute for the 
Executive Committee, technically acting under and as a subcommittee 
of the Central Committee. 

However, committees never have got things done on any venture. 
Ultimate authority must rest in an individual The individual was at 
hand in the person of Henry P. Davison. 

Mr. Davison, living in an age prior to the broad development of 
public relations and publicizing of individuals in business, was known 
only to a relatively small circle of persons. But the circle included 
those who now counted most. Quiet in speech but eloquent in expres- 
sion, he had become a major figure in the house of J. P. Morgan and 
Company, He knew relatively little about the workings of the Red 
Cross, but he had a high vision of it. He pictured the Red Cross as an 
agency to assist nations and peoples, not individuals, and he offered 
all that he had to that service. 

Davison became, on Cleveland Dodge’s recommendation, chair- 
man of the War Council, pledging tc- give his full time to the volunteer 
assignment for the duration of the .var. He r-.ccepted the job in these 

The Red Cross has given me a new conception of America and 
the American spirit. It is with the zeal oi a convert that 1 invite 
the American people to come in wuii me under President Wilson 
and make it the nationwide organization that is demanded by 
these times. . . . Our job in the American Red Cross is to bind 
up the wounds of a bleeding world. . . . Think Red Cross! Talk 
Red Cross! Be Red Cross! 

Against what background could Davison so speak'^ For his language 
was eloquent yet carefully phrased. He spoke from the pinnacle of 



financial success as a banker, yet did not talk down to the public. His 
background was that of the new American — as plain as the crusading 
Clara Barton’s but through his own efforts as elegant as Mabel Board- 
man’s. He could speak to both their houses. 

Born in Troy, Pennsylvania, in 1 867, fired with the desire to be a 
banker, Davison became a runner for a Bridgeport, Connecticut, 
bank at the age of nineteen. Five years later he got a job with the new 
Astor Place National Bank in New York, and soon then moved to 
the Liberty National Bank. In 1 899, at the age of thirty-two, he be- 
came president of the Liberty, and the youngest bank president in 
the United States. In 1909 he was invited into the Morgan circle and 
won international note among the elite of the banking business. 

It was Davison who then had to guide the War Council through the 
shoals of policy determination, now that the United States had taken 
sides in a conflict covering most of the western world. Without a policy 
there could be no coherence. Serious questions — never before encoun- 
tered — required serious determination. 

How far could the Red Cross proceed as an American auxiliary to 
the war effort without compromising its position as an international 
neutral force to relieve suffering? Even the word “treason” crept into 
heated debate in the conference room of the still new and incom- 
pletely furnished headquarters so recently occupied in Washington. 

The answer came in August, 1917, with adoption of a policy state- 
ment by the War Council which stood the test not only of World War 
I but of the subsequent wartime operations of the Red Cross. It is 
notable both for its realism and for the brevity and simplicity of its 

When war was declared between the United States and Ger- 
many, the neutrality of the American Red Cross ended automati- 
cally. The American Red Cross can cooperate only between the 
lines of the armies of the United States and its allies. But the Red 
Cross knows no such thing as the nationality of a wounded man. 
Any wounded enemy turned over to the care of the American 
Red Cross will receive as kindly treatment as any friend. The 
Red Cross will not only extend every aid and comfort to the army 
and its allies, but it will assist in every possible way the sick, 
wounded and afflicted among the civilian populations among our 



allied countries. This is in conformity with the practice of the 
Red Cross in every country. 

And so it was. 


Here the Red Cross story in World War I — the almost unbelie’, ’.ble 
story of its development in response to the need — leaves temporarily 
the Washington scene to find its proper places, in the communities of 
the United States, with some indication of what individuals were do- 
ing. After all, the Red Cross is not so much an organization as it is 
the individual infinitely multiplied — individuals forming both a core 
of paid and trained technicians and the millions of volunteers whom 
they guide, counsel and train. 

Before that departure, however, there is one note of qualification: 

This is the story of the Red Cross, and to this' one subject it is 
confined. But perspective requires the note and constant recollection 
that the Red Cross was not alone by any means in service to the armed 
forces in World War I or since. Under its charter the Red Cross held 
unique responsibilities for serving the wounded but it was no mo- 
nopoly, and did not seek to be one, in giving assistance and comfort 
to the ablcbodied serviceman. 

There were eight other volunteer societies who enriched their tradi- 
tions in World War 1. They were the Y.M.C.A., the Y.W.C.A., the 
Knights of Columbus, the Jewish Welfare Board, the Salvation Army, 
the Society of Friends (Quakers), the American Library Association 
and the War Camp Service. 

After a preliminary hassle over fields of activity, the War Depart- 
ment set up a Commission on Camp Training Activities that eventu- 
ally worked out parallel roles to be played by ail these organizations 
in providing recreational, educational and religious activities for serv- 
icemen. The feuds and criticisms of the time are long since past, and 
have no place here. 

So we shall return to the Red Cross story. 

+ + + + + 

Chapters Come 
into Their Own 


I RioR TO 1917, it seems fair to state as a generality, the picture of 
Red Cross chapters was one of wisps and whims that developed with- 
out rhyme or reason. Clara Barton long before had made clear her 
feeling that on the whole the local chapters should be considered as 
fund-raising media when called upon, but otherwise snould lie low and 
not presume to intrude in the affairs of the national organization. 

Mabel Boardman had advocated a limited and definitive chapter 
program, with continuing activities and training work for volunteers. 
But except for sporadic acceptance of such things as the Christmas 
seals program, the chapters remained much as they had been before — 
fund-raising devices primarily and recruiting agencies for volunteers 
to a modest degree. 

These attitudes, both from the National Headquarters standpoint 
and from the localities where the Red Cross often had its highest ac- 
ceptance, present an untidy picture ci development that utterly abol- 
ishes any attempt at presenting a continuity of chapter growth. There 
is not even a clear statement as to the origin of the term “chapter” for 
local branches. 

In the early days there were societies and auxiliaries, according to 
how they chose to term themselves. These grew first in the w'ake of dis- 
aster operations — ^just as Clara Barton organized Dansville, Rochester 
and Syracuse in 1 88 1 . 




New York, Philadelphia and Boston came into the picture early, 
but as independent units. There was no love lost between these large 
city groups and Washington. At one international convention in the 
nineteenth century, Philadelphia sent its own delegate, a man quickly 
sent packing by Clara Barton but not before he had confused several 
issues. The Washington Chapter, on the other hand, substantially con- 
trolled the national operations from 1 904 until 1917. 

At the time of the Spanish- American War there were slate associa- 
tions in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Indiana, 
Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Min- 
nesota, Texas and California, but none was really a part of the Barton 
organization. In fact, New York insisted, as has been noted, on setting 
up its own committee for the Spanish-American War, and Minnesota 
sent its own delegation to the troops. 

Despite all the talk in 1905 of encouraging state branches, there 
were no ground rules and no real procedures. Primary emphasis was 
on the enrollment by National Headquarters in each state of a primary 
committee of prominent and wealthy persons, seeded with leading po- 
litical figures including the governor wherever possible. 

Later Bicknell suggested development of state branches, and the 
formation of local chapters within the branches. But however one 
slices the records and background, it all remained a paper plan of a 
paper organization. The trouble was, there was so little to do between 
disaster appeals. 

In 1910, Bicknell said he thought that “chapters are chiefly and 
must always be chiefly dormant.” By 1912 he wrote — about coinci- 
dent with the start of the water safety program — that “to be successful 
the Red Cross must be a part of the life and interest of the commu- 

And there at last he put his finger on a great discovery. 

This was exactly what many of the outstanding auxiliaries and 
societies had long since begun to do, but more in their own name than 
in that of the headquarters group in Washington. The most common 
continuing activity by the Red Cross societies revolved around the 
“sewing circles” of the period, in which members did sewing for the 
needy in the name of the Red Cross. 

The Brooklyn, New York, Society, which was far more active in 
the early years of the twentieth century than those in the other New 



York City boroughs, founded a nurses’ training school. Philadelphia 
was pioneering many types of social service through cooperative work 
with other established organizations. 

All of these together were the nuclei of the Red Cross to which was 
addressed the first war appeal on February 2, 1917, when, by all the 
totaling of such units in the cats-and-dogs organization, Eliot Wads- 
worth could find 267 Red Cross “chapters.” 

A 1914 report shows the cleavage that existed right up to this time. 
In that year the Red Cross had three broad administrative areas in 
the United States. The Central Area covered practically all of the 
country from the Alleghenies to the Rocky Mountains. Yet in all that 
territory there were Red Cross chapters only in Chicago; Burlington, 
Iowa; Topeka, Kansas; Detroit and Grand Haven, Michigan; Mil- 
waukee and Madison, Wisconsin; San Antonio, Dallas, and El Paso, 
Texas. And only three — Dallas, El Paso and Madison — were on suffi- 
ciently good speaking terms with Washington to K:)ld charters from 
National Headquarters. 

The trouble was — the Red Cross as a whole had little to offer and 
less to do. 


Then came the explosion, signaled by the trumpet call to action in 
1917. There was such a response that for months records could not 
keep up with the facts. 

As the statistics piled up they seeiiied improbable, if not impossible, 
prompting one anonymcuis reporter to set down the conclusion that 
“their enthuiasm was matched only by their ignorance of what they 
were to do.” 

Bridgeport, Connecticut, which already had a staunch local organi- 
zation, took in 18,000 new contributing members within two weeks; 
New Orleans and Atlanta reported 7,000 new members each before 
the end of February; Chicago burgeoned immediately into an organi- 
zation with 30 chapter branches and 635 auxiliaries dedicated to 
specific tasks. The examples could be continued indefinitely. 

By August of 1917, the number of local chapters had grown to 
2,279, and in November to 3,287. A peak was to be hit in 1918 with 
a chapter total never reached since, 3,864, when it could be reported 



that there was not a square mile of territory in the United States that 
was not enrolled in some Red Cross Chapter. And it was harmonious, 
cohesive and on the whole efficient — ^with cooperation between Wash- 
ington and chapters eventually running smoothly through the agencies 
of the thirteen regional branches of National Headquarters. 

Within a few months the Red Cross chapters knew what they were 
to do and were going about doing it. And the Red Cross was at last a 
part of American life, national and community alike. 

Adult enrollment reached 20,390,173 in the year ending June 30, 
1918, with more than 8,000,000 children brv'ught into the Junior Red 
Cross when it was formed in 1917. 

The members of the chapters not only gave money: they worked. 
More than 8,000,000 women were organized on a regular service basis 
to cut bandages, roll surgical dressings, knit sweaters and make hospi- 
tal garments. The traditional American sewing circle became an effi- 
cient production line, working on materials purchased out of funds 
contributed to the Red Cross. In most cases the contributors and the 
workers were the same persons. Any prior dynasties of money or social 
cliques were submerged, for the moment at least. 

Take Chicago as one recorded example of what this organization 
meant: In this one city Red Cross contributions in the eighteen war 
months reached a total of $13,000,000. For many months the volun- 
teer workers sent to the soldiers and sailors under arms supplies valued 
at $8,000 a day. 


Through the chapters there now fanned out the personnel that oper- 
ated, unsurely at first and then with more vigor and understanding of 
their jobs, the many new services that characterized the work of the 
Red Cross on the home front in 1917 and 1918. 

In perspective it is a little easier forty years later, but not always 
simple, to separate the “glory” descriptions from the actual practical 
applications. The individuals always seem to become obscured by the 
atmosphere in such mass upheavals, and the Red Cross most assuredly 
shared the same confusions, mistakes and wonderful individual experi- 
ences that characterized the mass mobilization suddenly thrust upon 
the United States by a totally unprepared leadership in 1917. 


chapters come into their own 

It took almost a year, until the beginning of 1918, for the Red 
Cross chapters to begin to function smoothly as an au xili ary of the 
military — as a “shock absorber” between the men in uniform and the 
civilian population — ^but it also is true that it took the military that 
long to settle down to the task of training and equipping an army of 

3.000. 000 men. 

In that period, the Red Cross developed somewhere in the middle 
ground between the sentimental posters screaming the legend of the 
Greatest Mother in the World” and as a working organization. It be- 
came an organization of many thousands of hard-working anonymous 
male and female volunteers whose uniforms gave them the privilege of 
doing some glamorous work but more often vexing and sweaty jobs 
reimbursed only with a great sense of satisfaction. 

On one side the picture is one of statistics. On the other it is a 
montage of human beings hard at work. 

The accounting procedures of the Red Cross, so long under fire, 
actually swung to almost an absurd extreme. It is meticulously re- 
corded that in World War 1, the chapters turned out 23,000,000 
articles for soldiers and sailors, 14,000,000 items of hospital supplies, 

6.000. 000 refugee garments and 300,000,000 surgical dressings. Some 

15.000. 000 pounds of wool went into articles knitted by Red Cross 
volunteers and there are due records of millions of meals served, cups 
of coffee handed out, et cetera ad infinitum. 

One final hard statistic sIkavs that the Red Cross chapters purcha.sed 
$61,000,000 worth of raw materials in World War I, and turned it into 
finished products with an estimated value of $94,000,000. I’hat was 
big business, a classic memento to volunteci hands working by the 
million and incidentally relieving commercial production facilities that 
could be turned to other war needs. 

No such records can give an impression, however, of the individuals 
and their work. 

The Red Cross production picture in World War I finally became 
one of mass efficiency unparalleled since, because in meeting the needs 
of World War II such efforts had been outmoded by industrial de- 
velopment. In the helter-skelter of 1917-18 the Red Cross work by 
the women so often teased for being a gigantic sewing circle was price- 
less. That war caught the United States unprepared militarily or indus- 
trially even to feed and clothe a mass army. W’hen women knit 



sweaters they knitted necessities— not luxuries to displace some item of 
standard issue but a garment that otherwise in the main the wearer 
would not have got at all. 

When surgical dressings and hospital supplies were wasicl'ulh 
trimmed and rolled by hand, they supplied a need for which machines 
to make these in such quantities simply did not exist. 

By the early part of 1918 such proficiency and efficiency in deliver- 
ing these items had been demonstrated by the millions of unpaid 
women working in the Red Cross chapters that the military authoritie.s 
considered the Red Cross a major source of supply. Requisitions were 
sent to National Headquarters, just as orders went to munitions- 
makers; quotas of work according to chapter organization were allo- 
cated, and deliveries were made, as in the case of military commercial 
contracts. And on the whole the .system worked well. 

Of course, the usual bad reactions occurred. Here and there some- 
one sold a sweater, and occasionally an article with the Red Cross 
label found its way through the black market into commercial chan- 
nels. But this was not the Red Cross; this was the inescapably normal 
fringe thievery that always has, and always will, characterize the black 
markets of wartime. 

And there were military regulations, loo, that gave rise to other 
rumors of Red Cross sales, just as these cropped up again in World 
War II. Under certain conditions the Army required that the Red 
Cross make nominal charges for meals served in canteens to military 
personnel, or for coffee, in the United States and abroad. It is the 
nature of the human mind to have remembered dowm through the 
years the fact that charges were made, but to disregard, cither out of 
ignorance or malice, the reason for the charges. 

Coincidentally, while millions of women became a volunteer pro- 
duction force for the troops, their co-workers (or often the same 
women multiplying their shifts of service) were making the Red Cross, 
now characterized by a new authorized uniform, the symbol of a tire- 
less female auxiliary to the fighting forces. 


To the soldier in World War I — or in later wars for that matter — 
there was no differentiation between the chapters and the National 


chapters come into their own 

Red Cross, or even any understanding of the almost military organiza- 
tion and discipline to whic Red Cross staff workers and volunteers 
gladly submitted. 

The soldier saw a Red ross worker serving coffee and doughnuts 
in a canteen during the interminable waits imposed upon troop trains, 
or a Red Cross worker in a hospital penning a letter for a bedridden 
man. or another passing out cigarettes at a port of embarkation ar 
doing her best to leave him with a smiling impression of good wishes. 
Too often he contrasted these individually small services with the 
overglorification of the Red Cross in the posters and advertisements 
of fund drives presenting (not always through the fault of the Red 
Cro: ' ) such workers as super angels. 

But to the Red Cross, national and chapter alike, the war brought 
a challenge of organization and service devek.pincnt that turned it in 
effect into a civilian army. This was an army administered, organized 
and trained by a skeleton paid staff and filled in its ranks by the vol- 

The paid staff grew in the national organization to approximately 
10.000 members and the chapters individually employed about one- 
fourth that number. But among the national paid workers were the 
field directors, camp service directors, clerical help and the omnipres- 
ent auditvirs. For each paid worker there were hundreds of volunteer 
men and women. Each gave at least a few hours a week. Some de- 
voted substantially full time to the tasks that were kept in order and 
supplied with materials by the paid staff. 

In this war on the home front gu;w up three special services — in 
addition to nurse recruitment and other subsioiary activities — that had 
no precedent in Red Cross work in the United States or in any other 
country. I'hcy became known as Canteen Service, Camp Service and 
Home Service. 

The Canteen Service w'as perhaps 'he greatest accidental big busi- 
ness in which the Red Cross ever found itself involved. It became 
both a headache and an opportunity and, let it be noted in passing, 
simply one activity that would have required far more persons than the 
entire paid staff of the Red Cross had it not been for the work of the 
trained volunteers. 

Tt all started along the standard line, of some little thoughtful touch 
for the soldier in camp or en route to war — coffee and doughnuts, a 

15 * 


cigarette and a smile. Similar things were being done by many other 
organizations, notably the Salvation Army and the Y girls. Then sud- 
denly, in the confusion of 1917, the work burgeoned. 

The tables of organization might expand or contract, the statistics 
grow mountain high; but the real character of the Red Cross was be- 
ing shaped by the individual in the specific place where there was a 
job to do. From the records . . . 

Aboard a train in Arizona, a soldier on transfer orders was found 
suffering from smallpox. The Red Cross took him off, along with a 
Pullman porter exposed to the man’s illness, hospitalized them and 
saw them back to health. 

Another soldier became seriously ill while detached from his unit. 
Red Cross workers saw him hospitalized. He died, and a local chapter 
sent his body home, paid expenses, and arranged, when they found he 
was a man without family, to send a delegation to attend his funeral. 

Location of fiances became a routine task, and marriages were ar- 
ranged and held in those cases where the willingness antedated a “war 
romance,” in some cases while a troop train with the man aboard 
stopped to refuel at a junction. 

Someone noted that men were being held for hours on troop trains 
without any feeding preparations made by a hard-pressed military. 
Permission was given to the Red Cross to pass out to them sandwiches 
and coffee, chocolate bars or whatever was available. Finally, the 
“permission” to do this was accepted by the Red Cross and the mili- 
tary as a duty under the old charter of the Red Cross. 

In a third step the Army realized that this chore was becoming an 
essential military service and it requested the Red Cross formally to 
prepare to go all the way. 

In summary, at the end of the war the Red Cross was operating 700 
fixed canteens, or restaurant-snack bars in the United States. It was 
providing light meals aboard countless trains, and giving emergency 
relief ranging up to medical care for troops in transit. In the formal 
background of organization were operated 85 canteen depots, pro- 
vided out of Red Cross funds and managed by other Red Cross work- 
ers, from which the Army itself often requisitioned supplies. 

In 430 of the canteens there also were reading rooms and miscella- 
neous extras such as first-aid stations, lavatories, showers and free 
telephone booths. 


chapters come into their own 

All of which took an enormous amount of work — cleaning and 
cooking and dishwashing and carrying out the garbage. Who did this? 
Some 55,000 women who found time away from their homes and 
children, or their own regular wartime jobs, to be Red Cross volun- 

By the end of 1918 the Canteen Corps found that demobilization 
was not for it, for a long time to come. The same troop trains that had 
moved soldiers to war now were moving them home, and among those 
moved home were 500,000 sick or wounded, the casualties of war. In 
fact, the postwar end of this job became so heavy that the Red Cross 
and the military authorities had to revise their own procedures in or- 
der to enable the Red Cross workers to give the best they had to these 
relics of the fighting. 

It was the military, too, who inadvertently contributed to the most 
damning black eye the Red Cross has ever suffered, through the Can- 
teen Corps; and one which still plagues it despite ^explanations so 
simple that one would think any informed person would understand, if 
they wished. 

The canteens that served meals aroused the bitter enmity and cu- 
pidity of commercial restaurants in their vicinities, even at a period 
when any business worth patronizing was strained to meet its oppor- 
tunities. Always sensitive to criticism by voters, the Army ordered 
the Red Cross to make nominal charges for meals in these rare cases. 
The Red Cross did so, as it was forced to do overseas in off-post can 
teens again in World War II. 

As a result, even thirty years later, thousands of persons who have 
not the least idea what the Red Cross really is or does will blithely 
damn it because “it charged the soldier for what we gave them.” Of 
course, such a charge also makes a convenient excuse not to contribute 
to the work of any public philanthropy, regardless of its nature. 


While the Canteen Service was unique in its birth and operation, the 
Red Cross chapters, working as the extended arms of the national 
organization, successfully turned the turmoil of World War I into a 


development plot for delivering all the other promises of wartime 
service set forth in its charter. 

Work abroad, of course, was for the professionals, and will be 
treated briefly later. At home in 1 917-18, the organization discovered 
and responded to a thousand implications never dreamed of by the 

What was to be done to carry out the Red Cross promise when 
training camps mounted to a total well over three hundred, with all 
the personal problems of young men suffering the loneliness of mass 
herd life in them; with family problems mounting into the thousands 
daily because of separated households; and with all the other prob- 
lems from epidemics to breakdown of clothing issues? What would 
this mean to the one organization that had fought for, and won, the 
exclusive privilege of acting as mercy agent for the military in time 
of war? 

Aside from the argument of petty detail and recrimination — and the 
acknowledged inefliciencies that inevitably accompany the filling of 
such demands by inexperienced persons — or even including them all 
in the picture — the record is magnificent. 

A staff of 1,000 Red Cross workers was recruited to serve the 
camps. The new job of “Field Director’' was created, a man assigned 
to a unit who stayed with it throughout the war. With him, in larger 
organizations, would be also a “Camp Director” serving the able- 
bodied and a “Hospital Director” serving the sick and injured and, 
later, the wounded. And backing this group were the volunteers from 
local chapters. 

The Red Cross field director was more than ever required to be 
— as had been stated in a report on pioneer work by field workers in 
Puerto Rico in the Spanish- American War — “a good grocer, dry 
goodsman, apothecary, financier, doctor and” None of which 
he could have been, without superb a.s.sistance. 

The principal components of the field director’s own private army 
were the Canteen Service and Home Service, aided by other newly 
formed organizations including Motor Service and Health Service. 

The daily grist of the field director and the Home Service — the 
chapter organizations back “where the men came from” — ^were illness, 
marital difficulties, investigation of applications for compassionate 



leave and reports thereon, whether valid or otherwise. The jobs were 
not always well done, but they were done, and the record always must 
note that, had there not been a Red Cross to try, how long and how 
difficult would have been the task of developing a substitute? 

The hard fact is that mass mobilization always lays upon authority 
the necessity for planning operations on a mass scale. Then details 
slip. A kit of medicines for a vital small hospital unit goes astray; the 
junior officer in charge cannot go to the nearest source of supply and 
lay out the cash to buy such necessities, but in World War 1 the Red 
Cross man could and did. When the influenza epidemic broke out in 
1918, as one example, it caught short the hospital at Camp Dodge, 
Iowa. The Red Cross field director bought up stocks of needed medi- 
cines from local jobbers. And the Red Cross was equally essential in 
plugging other gaps, f;om toothpaste to toilet paper and '..lothing, 
when bureaucracy got snarled in red tape. 

Henry Davison gave a graphic description of what all this meant in 
his book. The American Red Cross in the Great War: 

There were no bankers’ hours in Camp Service. The camp 
turned out at 6 when the Red Cross man was on his job mapping 
the day’s work, examining and preparing to fill orders from the 
camp commandant or the chief surgeon, going through a mail 
that was full of Home Service problems, a hundred individual 
cases, official communications, and “axes to grind.” There might 
be requests for help in securing di^ barges, for the Red Cross — 
with its facilities for investigation and its standing with the War 
Department — could present the story of a man who had a just 
claim for release as well as for the man who had no claim and 
had yet to learn the hopelessness of asking to be released. 

There were always a lot of privat * 'nesses that were coming up 
for settlement, domestic complications legitimate or otherwise. 
The draft brought to light more bigamy than the law could pun- 
ish. It brought many a soldier face to face in many a camp with 
two wives and often with more. There were reunions in Red 
Cross headquarters of several families with only one head. It 
would take a Solomon and Haroun-al-Raschid rolled into one to 
adjust in these cases the questions of insurance and allotment. 



The Red Cross Field Director was not a judge, but he was asked 
more than once to sentence a foolish soldier to matrimony. 

And as World War I rolled into 1918 and overseas movements of 
American troops, the American Red Cross “rolled with the punch” 
into another new ground-breaking of experiences that have become 

+ + + + + 

Europe— 1917-1918 

In World War I the American Red Cross accepted i;nd handled 
in a historically notable manner the task of demonstrating to a here- 
tofore skeptical Europe the depth and breadth of ’‘humane feeling of 
which the United States was capable. No such proof, nor many of the 
accompanying activities, were required of a non-governmental organi- 
zation in the conflict of the 1 940s. In many respects government had 
taken over this task. But in 1917-18 the story was far different. 

What was lacking in experience was made up in energy, as was so 
often the case in military operations themselves. And the qualification 
must be set down that in breaking new ground every day the Red 
Cross, like the military and other civilian organizations authorizeo to 
operate abroad, had its own shar'' of misjudgment, bumbling and 
ineptitude. But the results were whal counted 

Those results were such that the Red Cross emerged from the or- 
deal with apparently more honors, and fewer scars of criticism, than 
any other official or non-governmental organization engaged in vast 

Yet everything that was done in Europe in 1917-18 on behalf of 
the Red Cross was done by amateurs. No amount of domestic experi- 
ence in the fourteen or fifteen years of the existence of a Red Cross 
organization supplied precedents for even the daily routine of opera- 
tions. This was no venture in which a few people collected a pittance 
of contributions, loaded a ship and sent it off to an island war. 

This was real, it was big and it was international. It began with 




“morale” operations in France, embraced nursing and care of the 
sick and wounded of the American Expeditionary Forces and their 
allies, and it tapered off into civilian postwar relief operations extend- 
ing the length and breadth of Europe and leaking over into the Middle 
East and the steppes of Russian Siberia. 

Before the job was done the Red Cross national organization had 
expended overseas about $120,000,000, or 70 per cent of all of its 
World War I budget. It had sent its own expeditionary forces into a 
score of foreign countries. Besides that — in some fields that had 
ceased to require its services by the time of World War II — the Red 
Cross was performing actual military support services that in effect 
meant the devising of means to do quickly what the military found 
difficult or impossible. 

This was the era of actual staffing and manning of hospitals by 
Red Cross personnel, of moving just behind the lines in the late and 
bloody struggles of the conflict, of taking care of countless streams of 
shocked and hopeless native refugees (as in Italy after the disaster 
of Caporetto), and of introducing to haggard and battle- worn troops 
of Allied forces the niceties of canteens and comforts already re- 
hearsed in the work in America’s training camps. 

General Pershing was to write later of the work of the Red Cross, 
“The value of the service is beyond computation.” 

And in Italy, Premier Orlando told the Italian Parliament: “Our 
soul is .stirred again with appreciation and admiration for the magnifi- 
cent dash with which the American Red Cross has brought us power- 
ful aid in our recent misfortune.” 

To complete the record prior to giving some indication of the 
human story. General Mcrritte W. Ireland, Chief Surgeon of the AEF, 
reported that the Red Cross “rendered an essential service to our men 
the value of which can never be fully known.” 

What a long way the Red Cross had come from the pioneering 
work by Clara Barton in the Civil War, the little foray into Cuba, or 
the sporadic headlines of disaster relief and rehabilitation work! 


America’s formal entry into World War I found some token Red Cross 
work already under way, including a large number of volunteer ambu- 
lance units operating with the French Army. By May of 1917 six 



base hospital units were landed in Britain. On June 18, 1917, a Com- 
mission to France, headed by Major Grayson M, P. Murphy — work- 
ing in a civilian and not a military capacity — reached Paris. 

General Pershing met with this commission when he arrived with 
the nucleus of a staff to plan for the AEF. He tersely lold Major 
Murphy, “If you really want to do something for me, for God's sake 
buck up the French. They have been fighting for three years and are 
getting ready for their fourth winter, and if they are not taken caie of, 
nobody can tell what will happen to us.” 

It was all very well for the mass of Americans to think that this 
would be a quick and easy war, now that the eagle was screaming, 
iiK -tly through the exaggerations of war slogans and bond drives. But 
“Black Jack” Pershing knew the inevitable delays that lay ahead and 
the real worries over the letdown that would come to our European 
Allies as these facts dawned on them — the total unpreparedness of 
America for the total war to which it now was pledged 

The War Council of the Red Cross, already freed of any financial 
worry by the initial outpouring of contributions resulting from the 
first appeals for funds, acted far more quickly than could government. 
First went a check for $1,500,000 to the French Red Cross, already 
practically bankrupt because the impoverishment of war had dried 
up its resources, and now stripping its own activities to essential and 
minimum hospital services for the wounded poilus. 

Next and even more important from a moiale standpoint was the 
actual dispatching of American Red Cross workers, in uniform, to 
perform services where they not Oi.iy were needed but could be seen 
by the French. This the War C'ouncil under Davison fully appreciated, 
announcing in June: “Our .Army cannot get to France in force im- 
mediately. but tlie Red Cross is there, and it is the purpose of the Red 
Cross to see to it that both the French Army and the French people 
understand that the heart of the An: '■lean people is behind them, and 
the impulses of that heart are expressed now in real mercy and assist- 
ance.” Two years later. Marshal Pelain wrote the conclusion of that 
policy statement, when he said of the work of the Red Cross in France, 
“Nothing has contributed more to the morale of my soldiers.” 

How was this accomplished as the first of the multiple steps that 
were to write the first big chapter in the w’artime history of the Ameri» 
can Red Cross, a chapter unexampled anywhere else, at any time? 



It began on September 17, 1917, when the American Red Cross — 
already represented in the form of supplies flooding into French Red 
Cross canteens — opened its own canteen. The canteen was a converted 
barracks at Chalons-sur-Marne, near a railroad station through which 
were shuttled large units of the French Army on their way to and from 
the nearby front. 

Here were dormitories equipped to accommodate many hundreds 
of men, a barber shop, recreation and lounging rooms, and ample 
bathing facilities. Completing the equipment was a large restaurant 
where, under military orders, meals were served at a charge of 75 
centimes each, or about 1 5 cents. The charge was actually below cost, 
and in the event a poilu had empty pockets he had only to apply to the 
stationmaster for vouchers that gave him the meals for nothing. 

The prototype at Chalons-sur-Marne soon had its counterparts at 
many other entraining stations and in the railway stations of Paris 
itself. Smaller and less elaborate canteens soon appeared close behind 
the lines, opened wherever French military ollicials suggested they 
be located. As a final touch fifteen rolling canteens were operating 
right up to the lines before 1917 came to an end. 

As for capacity, even the rolling canteens were no token things, as 
each served between 2,000 and 4,000 hot meals every twenty-four 
hours. And in the canteens were hundreds of American women resid- 
ing in France. From the journal of one of them the Red Cross archives 
contain this quotation: 

Can you imagine feeding an average of 3,000 men a day, a 
shifting population, infantry, cavalry, artillery, marines, chas- 
seurs, Alpins, engineers, Turcos, Egyptians, Senegalese and, to- 
day, about 500 Annamese! I have just come back from the 
canteen. Such an afternoon. A great train of seriously wounded, 
which is tiring as one has to climb in all the carriages. The men 
adore cocoa. We get into the sanitary trains and begin with the 
men who are well enough to sit up and handle tin cups. . . . 

And while the “morale” work in the form of hot food, hot drinks 
and hot baths was progressing among the fighting forces of the ex- 
hausted French, the Red Cross was branching out into cooperative 
work for the civilian population — displaced families, rapatriees from 



German-occupied territory who consisted of aged, infirm, sick and 
orphaned young. 

Here the primary job was handled by the French Red Cross, but 
in its bleak financial status the supplies, and much of the handling of 
these often foreign types of equipment, had to become a direct re- 
sponsibility of the Americans. In the end, the American Red Cross 
took on responsibility for all refugees in Paris, and subsequently for 
their rehabilitation — rebuilding houses and even supplying seed for 
their crops — when victory liberated their lands. 

The requirements for supplies and the taxation of ingenuity seemed 
endless. As at Evian, a gateway for rapatrices where in 1917 alone 
50, '00 of the sick, infirm and helpless refugees were released by the 
Germans, with no place awaiting them in already overcrowded France 
below the battle lines, the answer had to be orphanages and homes, 
built on the spot, together with hospitals and convalescent establish- 

When the civilian relief job was ended, the accountants rendered 
their report — expenditures of $9,000,000 on relief for refugees, $3, 
800,000 for relief of destitute families of French soldiers, $3,000,000 
in assistance to children and $2,400,000 on a program to combat 
tuberculosis. The total came to $18,200,000 or more than the Red 
Cross spent directly on all of its activities on behalf of American sol- 
diers in the Expeditionary Forces. 

But aside from its pragmatic effect on bolstering French morale, 
and the uncounted values chalked up for humanity, the French pro- 
gram developed experience and skill within the Red Cross. Here was 
practical training for the woik to be done when the shifting of Ameri- 
can troops to France swelled into full flood by the spring of 1918 
Old hands were there, fully experienced in the services that American 
troops would need, a field staff already in being to cooperate with field 
directors of the Red Cross who landed with the military units to which 
they had been assigned. 

While advance military units built supply depots, training camps 
and all the manifold requirements of troops overseas, the Red Cross 
took on the task of keeping up its facilities to meet the progress of 
military work. 

In January Major Murphy re.signed as Red Cross commissioner in 
France, to be succeeded first by James H. Perkins and then by Harvey 



D. Gibson, but the changes in command were important only in the 
line of authority, not in the progress of development which plunged 


Now the Red Cross was called upon to add to its comfort and morale 
work the primary destiny it had set for itself in the original charter — 
aid and comfort for the wounded in time of war. And as emphasis 
shifted with the involvement of American troops in battle this became 
its most important function. 

In World War I the Red Cross actually provided personnel and 
hospital units, and ran them in support of the Army’s own medical 
program. This requires a word of explanation, since most persons 
even within the Red Cross ranks remember only World War II and the 
Korean War, in both of which this original Red Cross service had been 
superseded by a fully developed military Medical Corps. 

In 1917-18 the Army, itself a new and vast experiment as far as 
this country was concerned, theoretically had a modern Medical 
Corps, but one that never had served forces totaling as many as 150,- 
000 men, and had operated only in peacetime. 

The Red Cross, as experimental in its work as the Army but with 
the advantage of a narrower objective and fewer demands upon it, 
started its program with the nurses' recruitment campaign. The 8,000 
professional nurses on its roster were a very large core around which 
to build. Eventually it enrolled 24,000 nurses, of whom 1 8,000 were 
assigned to the Army, 1,000 to the Navy and 300 to the United States 
Public Health Service. The rest were left in civilian work. 

Upon entering military service the nurses personally became a part 
of the military establishment, but in the unique setup of World War I 
their equipment and their housing at base hospitals were supplied and 
maintained by the Red Cross. The uniforms worn by the nurses — at 
this point w'as developed the famous blue outdoor uniform with the 
blue and scarlet cape — were Red Cross uniforms. Nurses also volun- 
teered for service overseas with the Red Cross itself, as in work with 
refugees, and eventually there were in France alone 600 of these nurses, 
in addition to 250 nurses’ aides, who endured the rigors of wartime 
service without the pay, protection and occasional extra comfort in- 
volved in commissioned military service. 



Care of the wounded and ill in this war was a prototype of the 
modern method, with emergency stations at the front, field hospitals 
immediately behind the lines, evacuation hospitals at the nearest avail- 
able rail or highway junctions, and base hospitals and convalescent 
homes in the rear. 

In general, the Army handled the work in the forward areas and the 
Red Cross look over the rear hospitals. But when the front moved fast, 
these distinctions often disappeared. 

In actual fact, the Red Cross continued to operate many hospitals 
right through this war, because of the inability of the Army to take 
them over as had been planned. On paper it looks confusing, but in 
general this voluntary cooperation was of the kind that flowers best 
v/he.i almost insuperable need is faced. Thus it came about that in 
France there were Army Base Hospitals and Red Cross Military 
Hospitals handling the same types of patients, the latter entir-cly staffed 
by the Red Cross but working under military control; as well as regu- 
lar Red Cross Hospitals. The last group served othev* Allied wounded 
primarily but also received the overflow of Americans from the first 
two types of hospitals. In the Red Cross Hospitals all doctors, nurses 
and staff were supplied by the Red Cross. 

When the Armistice came in November, 1918, the Red Cross had 
established 21 hospitals in France, 12 convalescent homes, 9 infir- 
maries and 10 dispensaries, as well as a Navy hospital, one for Czecho- 
slovak soldiers and one for auxiliary Army personnel, or civilians on 
quasi-military duty. In the meantime the number of Red Cross conva- 
lescent hospitals for Americans in England had grown to 1 3. 

While these figures are the total 'or Red Cross facilities as such. 
General Ireland noted at the close of the war tliat the Red Cross 
actually had supplied 39 of the 45 base hospitals used by the military 
in France and England — each one geared to support 1,000 beds and 
served by 50 doctors and 100 nurses, plus being stocked with all 
technical equipment including hospita. garments for the patients. 

Coincident to the hospital work, the Red Cross found itself in 
massive hotel, restaurant and theater operations as the number of 
troops overseas grew, for this was the essence of the Canteen Service. 
Lessons learned in operating the initial canteens for the French forces 
stood the administrators in good stead, and eventually the number of 
canteens operated exclusively for American soldiers reached a total of 



130. It was estimated after the war that these had served a grand total 
of 6,000,000 meals, in addition to operation of other recreational 

As a footnote to Red Cross overseas service in World War I, let it 
be remarked that the Red Cross, outside of hospital work, was not 
alone. Its responsibilities and privileges were shared with other groups, 
notably the Y.M.C.A. and to a lesser degree by the other organiza- 
tions named earlier. The result was confusion, occasional competition 
and sometimes downright dissension. But on the whole the Red Cross 
came out on top because it provided the best for the most and, unlike 
some of the other organizations, held strictly aloof from religious or 
evangelical work. 


The hospital and canteen work of the Red Cross with the AEF was so 
massive that it all but obscures in retrospect a thousand other avenues 
of service by which war was made endurable for combatants or for 
civilians in extraordinary corners or situations in Europe. 

Italy and Russia furnish two outstanding episodes: the first of 
heroic service under conditions of grave danger; and the other of the 
odd political complications that befell the Red Cross in Russia, where 
attempts simply to mind its own business led to an extraordinary situ- 

One of Ernest Hemingway’s most gripping novels is Farewell to 
Arms. He gathered the material for it the hard way and, in so far as 
great novels can do so, he contributed to immortalizing one page of 
the Red Cross saga. 

In the winter of 1917-18 the Italian Army — in that war fighting on 
the Allied side — broke at Caporetto before an overwhelming attack 
by German and Austrian troops. Here was a massive repetition of 
the story of Solferino, but modified this time by the Red Cross acting 
as Dunant might have dreamed. 

In Italy, representing the American Red Cross was a volunteer 
ambulance brigade, made up of 135 ambulances and 25 auxiliary 
motor vehicles, manned by 104 American volunteer drivers. This 
brigade of ambulances, working night and day, accomplished the un- 
believable feat of transporting 66,000 wounded or sick Italian soldiers 



from the crumbling lines to base hospitals in the first six months of 
1918. Every driver was decorated for heroism by the Italian govern- 
ment. One of the drivers, a youth named Ernest Hemingway, was 
severely wounded and specially decorated for outstanding heroism. 

Late in the war, when American troops arrived, they were ac- 
companied by the services already io highly developed in France. !♦ 
is recorded that one unit fighting in the Alps at an altitude of 1 1 ,0r > 
feet was served hot coffee by a canteen transported by mules and dog 
teams up to the front lines facing the Austrians. 

In Russia, the complexities of the Communist revolution created a 
new twist for the Red Cross in its role as a quasi-ofticial arm of the 
government in international dealings. For a brief time a Red Cross 
commissioner was the only American of recognized official status 
talking face to face in Petrograd with Lenin and Trotsky. 

In August of 1917, the American Red Cross sent into Russia the 
maximum available help at the time as part of the policy of getting 
something into action with each of our Allies. Colonel Raymond 
Robins, acting as a civilian Red Cross official and not in his military 
.status, headed the unit. In his charge were a complete ambulance unit 
of 1 25 cars, about $200,000 worth of medical supplies, and requisi- 
tioning authority under which the Red Cross sent 450,000 cans of 
condensed milk for distribution among the children in Petrograd. 

As a gesture the mission was fine; for practical purposes in assisting 
the general war effort it meant very little. Russia was already on the 
way out, beaten to death, torn by revolution and treason. A provi- 
sional government headed by Kcrem^ky was trying to hold the Western 
Front, but was being defeated by communism behind the lines as well 
as by the Germans at the front. 

The Bolshevik Revolution was over by March, 1918, and Colonel 
Robins moved down to Moscow where, lacking American representa- 
tion either through recognized diplomatic or military missions from 
the United States, he was assigned the task of helping to mend Russia’s 
energy by carrying promises of more military aid. It was Trotsky who 
finally broke off these negotiations, as Robins reported, when he said: 

“Colonel Robins, your embassy sends you here with a big bag 
marked ‘American Help.’ You arrive every day, and bring the bag 
into my room, and you set it down by your chair, and you keep reach- 



ing into it as you talk, and it is a powerful bag. But nothing comes 

One doubts if Trotsky wanted anything to “come out.” Soon there- 
after the Russians sued for peace with Germany. They ceased to be 
an “ally” and Robins’ mission ceased to have a reason for being. Some 
work was done thereafter with Russian prisoners of war, but in Octo- 
ber of 1918, before the armistice on the Western Front, American 
military personnel, and with them the Red Cross, were withdrawn 
from western Russia. 

In the meantime the Red Cross found itself, acting under instruc- 
tions from our government, with two other confusing missions in 
Russia. One was in Siberia and the other at Archangel. While they 
assisted civilians in desperate need, both eventually were caught up 
in the fighting that eventuated between Bolsheviks and White Rus- 
sians, as well as with American troops landed to protect American 
supplies, and with Czccho-Slovak forces who found themselves fight- 
ing their erstwhile Russian masters to get out of the grasp of the 

As the war in eastern Europe either degenerated under revolution- 
ary movements or came to a halt with the general Armistice in No- 
vember, 1918, the Red Cross turned to problems of civilian relief all 
the way from Siberia southward through middle Europe and into 

This confusion in the East was graphic, but principally by contrast 
with the orderly manner in which such operations in western Europe 
blended into a pattern of rehabilitation. 

With the war ended, the work of the Red Cross in Europe became 
a story of slogging administration of relief as one important link 
among many in getting Europe back on its feet, a humane story with 
bookkeeping overtones that is both a twice-told tale and a story of 
development long since obscured by repetition in more recent memory. 

In summary, the Red Cross poured $90,000,000 more into Euro- 
pean relief between 1919 and 1922, about one-tenth of the estimated 
total of contributions by Americans to this cause of Continental re- 
habilitation. But the unique feature of the Red Cross work was its 
disproportionate contribution of persons and skills to the administra- 
tion of this task. 



Out of that experience, and the reputation which it gave to the Red 
Cross came one overwhelming fact: 

The American Red Cross — however much it might change to meet 
demands upon it in the future, and whatever reorganizations it must 
make within itself — was firmly established as a living landmark in the 
American scene. It would never again be small. 

. 14 , 

+ + + + + 

Aftermath of Glory 


ffiTHiN SIX MONTHS after the Armistice of 1918, two persons 
looking at the Red Cross from differing aspects might have wondered, 
on comparing notes, if they were seeing the same organization. 

In Europe, with personnel expanded even beyond its wartime level, 
the Red Cross was perhaps the brightest example of the humane 
spirit of America, of the outpouring alike of sentiment and dollars 
freely and voluntarily supplied for the relief of fellow men in desperate 
straits. In the United States, another observer might have reported 
with equal candor a decaying spirit of support, shrinking totals of 
volunteers and revenue, and a cloudburst of self-criticism and outside 
hostility that must have made soirc timid indh’iduals wish the Red 
Cross idea had never been effectuated. 

The question was again, but now in infinitely multiplied scale, 
whether an organization primarily rooted in idealism and not yet nailed 
down to a foundation of practicality coula survive in an atmosphere 
other than one of troubled times. 

In the foreign picture, from 1919 through 1922, the Red Cross was 
a prodigal servant of charity whose beneficiaries were to be counted in 
the millions. In Poland alone, $17,000,000 was poured into rehabilita- 
tion of a population of 18,000,000 people whose country had been 
devastated first by the Germans and afterward by the Bolsheviks. In 
vSiberia, in Bulgaria, wherever among the devastated lands one looked. 


17 « 


there was the Red Cross, either dispensing its own materials as agent 
for American bounty, or assisting in managing other relief funds. 

In fact, the American Red Cross went beyond its own capabilities 
and helped to organize the International League of Red Cross Societies, 
to which it contributed $2,000,000 dispensed by national societies 
facing loads that they could not handle out of their own resources. 

Not that the Red Cross was alone among agencies giving and con- 
tributing to such great works. Other American organizations were 
there, too, but the Red Cross was so much bigger, and so much more 
widespread than, for instance, the Quakers, it got the lion’s share 
of the glory and the major share of the work. 

Davison, who sometimes was more eloquent than factual, wrote early 
in 1919, that “war has taught the world the tremendous possibilities 
of applied humanity, and the spirit of the crusades is still abroad. ’ But 
his optimistic estimate was already at variance with the feeling in 
the United States that as soon as hostilities had ended, the thing for 
America to do was to get out of Europe. Many persons also made 
clear their belief that organizations such as the Red Cross had better 
revise any feeling that support for their wartime work implied any 
guarantee of sustenance in peacetime. 

Davison is credited primarily with the idea for forming the League 
of Red Cross Societies, which came into being in April of 1919. In 
subsequent years the League survived and justified itself as ( 1 ) a means 
of communication between the national societies, (2) an instrument 
for the promotion of common aims, and (3) a coordinating agency in 
international relief work. Almost thirty years after its founding the 
League was to provide the road for a magnificent demonstration of 
courageous relief work in Hungary. But in its beginnings it threatened 
to become, by its very activity, another instrument leading to the 
tearing down of the Red Cross’s hard-won recognition. 

It was what was happening at home that counted in the perpetuation 
of the American Red Cross. Much was happening there, ranging from 
retrenchment to reorganization, all complicated by a public apathy 
toward everything that smacked of the recent war or foreign com- 

It is the nature of all emergency activities that the shock of re- 
alization that the emergency is ended confronts them with a twofold 

aftermath of glory 


On one side always are ranged the enthusiasts who insist that the 
opportunities for service are greater than before the emergency. On 
the other side stand those who contend that it is time to forget emer- 
gency activity and get about the normal business of the day. Neither 
attitude is ever wholly correct, whether in politics or in organization 
work, but the finding of a middle road of need and means always re- 
quires a period of transition, of assessment and reassessment and usu- 
ally a complete “changing of the guard.” 

History has revealed very few examples of fiery wartime leaders 
capable of reorganizing their elements of genius to serve the cause of 
reconstruction and peace, or of fiery idealistic leaders capable of cool- 
ing their ardor to suit the long struggle of retrenchment. 

The types represented by Henry Davison and Eliot Wadsv'orth were 
the spark plugs of the continued European relief effort. Immediately 
after the Armistice they carried the War Council into a .rusading 
atmosphere of support for the postwar relief program. As Wadsworth 
proclaimed, “The great Red Cross army of mercy' which the war has 
called into being must never be demobilized.” 

W'hat size was that “army”? It was logical and modest in the midst 
of war, but to the eyes of a jaded peacetime United States it was 
huge. From an organization that in 1914 had had less than 100 em- 
ployees paid something under $150,000 a year it had swollen in 1919 
to a paid force of 9,000 persons and a payroll of $12,000,000 a year. 
There was simply no former basis of comparison for wartime budgets, 
which mounted into scores of millions of dollars and left a surplus of 
which $100,000,000 could be poured into European rehabilitation 
work alone. 

But in 1919, while grandly spending $95,000,000 the national 
organization of the Red Cross awakened to the fact that all of its 
contribution, including the enthusiastic hang-over from pledges made 
while the war still raged in 19lf*, totaled only $58,000,000. And 
projects for the future reduced to an uncomfortable level a surplus 
that at the close of 1919 stood at about $60,000,000. 

The forces of extravagant optimism and aloofness had become 
locked in a historic struggle. And after months of debate, there was 
a “new” Red Cross look, designed to win support for a big peacetime 
Red Cross based on big works of a kind never before attempted on 
a mass scale. Coincident with restoration of the form of the old or- 



ganization, the faces of leadership in the American Red Cross were 

On February 28, 1919, the War Council dissolved itself, restoring 
ultimate control over Red Cross policies to the Central Committee. 
Henry Davison and his coterie of prominent fellow members volun- 
tarily laid down their authority in a gesture that seems in retrospect 
to have been both one of modest retreat from authority and one of 
calculated disassociation from the peacetime “internationalism” of the 
Wilson Administration, as this was rapidly coming under challenge. 

William Howard Taft, then in temporary political eclipse and yet 
to reach his next height of political achievement as Chief Justice of 
the United States, had resigned at long last as chairman of the Cen- 
tral Committee. His successor, appointed by President Woodrow Wil- 
son, was the dynamic Dr. Livingston Farrand, college instructor in 
psychology and anthropology, who was to go on to become president 
of Cornell University. 

Important as a symbol out of all proportion to authority was the 
fact that Taft himself, upon resigning as chairman, was unable to 
obtain reappointment at that time of Miss Mabel Boardman to mem- 
bership on the Central Committee, 

For the fourth time the Red Cross was entering a new phase, com- 
bining a fight for survival, an inner contest over philosophy and 
program, and a self-searching of its very structure. The single element 
that kept alive the machine and the ideal, it appears in retrospect, was 
the undeviating determination on all sides above all else to keep the 
Red Cross in perspective as a servant of the people, not a bureaucracy 
existing for the purpose of feeding itself. 


To solve its manifold problems of transition, the Red Cross turned 
now to professional direction, and in doing so aroused a new storm 
of criticism. When Dr. Farrand was chosen as chairman, the Central 
Committee paid him a salary. The old tradition of unpaid chairmen 
standing above paid staff fell by the wayside, to the accompaniment 
of considerable criticism from the “old order” who still lingered in 
the belief that a philanthropic organization should be headed by a 
volunteer. That debate has never been concluded. 

Dr. Farrand, who took office with the enthusiastic support of the 

aftermath of glory 


now veteran Ernest Bicknell, was somewhat of Bicknell’s stamp— a 
younger version, although not a professional welfare director in the 
sense that Bicknell was. The new chairman had earned his living first 
as a member of the faculty of Columbia University, and after 1914 
as president of the University of Colorado. On the side, he had de- 
veloped an acute interest in health and welfare work. 

In a gradual transition from academic work. Dr. Farrand had been 
at this point — at the age of fifty -two — for nine years executive - rcre- 
tary of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of 
Tuberculosis. This was the organization that grew out of the woik 
supported by the Red Cross Christmas seals. In the war he had been 
sent to France by the Rockefeller Foundation to cooperate in the work 
of the international Health Board. 

Such a choice of chairman for the Red Cross was in many ways 
ideal. But current opinion within the oligarchy that controlled the Red 
Cross was divided over Dr. Farrand. both as a man and as the leader 
of the reconstruction program. Even Dr. Bicknell, h'is friend, expressed 
the view that he lacked “the weight, the brute force’* to lead the or- 
ganization. The more conservative clement feared that he was too 
ambitious and regarded the fact that he was paid a salary as a trend 
toward too much professional leadership in what they thought should 
be primarily a stand-by emergency organization. 

The biggest problem was the tact that the Red Cross w'as forced 
to work out its future destiny within a framework of circumstances 
over which it had no control. This background has been eloquently 
described by Foster Rhea Dulles in one brief paragraph; 

Every month saw the American people becumirg increasingly 
absorbed in their own individual concerns — eager to get back 
into normal business activity and to make a living. W'th cur 
former allies quarreling about the spoils of war abroad, and in- 
dustry and labor battling over the;' .'ights and privileges at home, 
appeals for further large-.scalc .sacrifices in behalf of any humani- 
tarian movement carried little weight. Disillusionment had set in, 
and a cynical materialism was taking the place of our wartime 

The opportunity for the Red Cross was essentially, therefore, that 
of giving leadership to the minority who believed there always was 



a place for the application of practical idealism, such as had flowered 
so often in the response to natural disasters. And as a footnote here, 
it is a matter of interesting record that neither in World War I nor 
in World War II were there disasters of such magnitude as to be called 

Now the Red Cross faced within its own organization the vital fact 
of chapter apathy. One questionnaire sent out to the chapters as to 
suggestions for future programs was not even dignified by a reply 
from three-fourths of them. One chairman replied, “Give us a rest.” 
Suddenly the question arose as to where were the 8,000,000 women 
who had labored so long and hard in production work, the thousands 
who had labored in canteen work, and the legions of other volunteers. 

In desperate anger. Dr. Farrand exclaimed that the Red Cross must 
not be “a drowsy giant to be aroused only by fire, sword, storm and 
flood — acts of God, war and pestilence.” The Red Cross needed a new 
program, one with public appeal that would hold the membership of 
contributors and give volunteers rewarding work. 

The answer for the time being, in so far as it could be established, 
lay in a new type of public health program; and Dr. Farrand moved 
into the field of publicity and promotion to put this into eflect. News- 
papers and magazines were enli.sted in support of the idea even before 
its details were devised. 

Wide publicity was given to statistics concerning American mothers 
dying in childbirth, mortality of infants, the deaths from contagious 
disease such as the still-remembered influenza that had ravaged the 
country, the backward state of rural hygiene. 

The Red Cross thereupon pronounced its new policy: 

That subject to over-all control from National Headquarters, the 
individual chapters would be assisted in any autonomous work to de- 
velop local health projects — with fingers of reference pointed at pre- 
vention of tuberculosis, venereal disease, mental disease — and encour- 
agement of all types of family and home health and care. 

“The Red Cross,” said the official announcement opening this new 
door for potential chapter ingenuity and activity, “through its millions 
of lay members comprising every element in every community, many 
of them themselves the victims of the foes that cut short human life 
and rob it of its sweetness, can serve a community as no other agency.” 

Yet with all the fanfare, there was considerably more rhetoric than 

aftermath of glory 


action. Possibly the start was made too fast, and without consideration 
of the times. In fact, in 1919, the chapters were busier than ever be- 
fore in peacetime, although the activity was one of liquidation of war- 
time responsibilities rather than of new jobs — the handling of multiple 
jobs with an always declining force of volunteers. Now the proposed 
activity was more in the nature of that demanding the services of 
professional social workers. 

With demobilization starting in 1919, the Red Cross actually h.;d to 
increase its Camp Service staff that year to meet the requests of the 
Army and Navy. Hospital Service and Home Service demands rose 
sharply after November, 1918. The hospitalized and disabled veterans 
became a major responsibility of the Red Cross, and many of the able- 
bodied were helped to readjust to civilian life. 

Wherever these activities were abundant. Red Cross chapters had 
little time or personnel for new programs. In those with no particular 
postwar activity, lassitude was the problem. Yet little by little the new 
health program managed to obtain a foothold. 

Scattered chapters began various activities concerned with public 
health nursing, classes in home hygiene and sick care, nutrition and 
the organization of community health centers. Wherever the spark of 
interest flared, National Headquarters sent assistance from a newly 
created Department of Health. The Nursing Service, with a record 
of unbroken loyalty by its volunteer members, took up probably tne 
most active challenge in t’'ie field of rural and .semi-rural nursing. 
Family welfare work was encouraged through formation of a new 
Civilian Home Service, reprc-sentinj enlargement of the former Home 
Service for military personnel and ihcir families, and subsequent as- 
sistance to families of veterans. 

New ground was broken by the National Red Cross when it spon- 
sored courses in social work in universities and colleges, and then 
helped to fill these classes by mean^ of scholarships for public health 
nurses and social workers. 

Great plans and grand ideas — ^these set a new pattern of Red Cross 
activities that were designed to keep alive the interest of chapters and 
to keep in training a host of volunteers. But did the public care? Or 
the chapters, either? As 1919 passed away month by month, the Cen- 
tral Committee began to wonder. 

A few figures — dull as they often are — come alive in graphic fash- 



ion to illustrate this feeling as between the Red Cross and the public, 
and the National Red Cross and its chapters. 

The total Red Cross began 1919 with total resources of $127,000,- 
000, of which the national treasury held $41,000,000 in money and 
$53,000,000 in supplies, and the chapters had $33,000,000. But the 
cost of the foreign program was so great that in 1919 a new fund 
drive was held. 

The response to that drive was crushing. The subscribing members, 
who had exceeded 20,000,000 in 1918, dropped to under 9,000,000. 
And subscriptions, in response to a modest appeal of only $25,000,- 
000 compared with the wartime gifts, yielded only $15,000,000 
despite a campaign led by an appeal from President Wilson himself. 

Furthermore, when the National Red Cross found itself scraping the 
bottom of the barrel in its world-wide program, the chapters — many 
of them now securely wealthy — simply declined to contribute any of 
their funds. 

Retrenchment was not only the order of the day; on it might rest 
very well the survival of the National Red Cross as against the alterna- 
tive of an old-fashioned stand-by organization on the Barton-Board- 
man pattern. The debate that followed was bitter because within the 
leadership of the Red Cross itself there were many who thought the 
old way preferable and proper. 

And then, in the logical nature of events, the whole question was 
confounded by the inevitable aftermath of criticism and questioning 
in high places of the very work that the Red Cross had done m 
World War I. 


What the public feels it owns, it properly feels it has the right to 
criticize. And no criticism is more violent than inflamed reaction — 
often started from hidden sources for hidden motives — ^to situations 
in which the facts are buried in generalities. 

In the fund campaign of 1919 the first charges of waste and mis- 
management in the handling of wartime programs were made. Of 
course, for what comfort it may have been to the Red Cross, it was 
not alone. Similar charges were leveled at every other major organiza- 
tion, including the Y.M.C.A., whose overseas hostesses formed un- 
officially their own organization bitterly termed “the damned Y girls.” 

aftermath of GIORY 


That the Red Cross “has charged the soldiers for supplies” flared 
into a burning issue. The moral behavior of nurses and social workers 
overseas became a favorite morsel of alley gossip. In the self-righteous 
aura of a period that brought Prohibition into being and banned the 
sales of cigarettes in many states, the Red Cross suddenly found itself 
pilloried for “destroying American youth” by free distribution of ciga- 
rettes to soldiers, which criticism made the giving seem worse than the 
other charge that it had sold cigarettes. The Russian relief pre j,ram 
brought out two violent charges: that the Red Cross was reactionary 
and helping only the old order, and that it was contributing directly 
to Communism by feeding Russians. 

Most charges of this nature finally die out as their palpable absurd- 
ity in over-all activity becomes apparent, and particularly when the 
organization under attack admits frankly that some individual some- 
where has made a mistake that tits even the absurdity nf the most 
extreme charge. However, criticism of the Red Cross now became 
more serious. 

In February, 1920, Senator John Sherman of Illinois, addressing 
Congress, attacked the Red Cross for mismanagement and extrava- 
gance claiming that it used 40 per cent of its funds for salaries and 
traveling expenses. A substantial minority of newspapers took up the 

In 1921 the Hearst newspaper organization, through a series of 
articles in the New Yorl Arierican, attacked the Red Cross as a 
“cold-blooded, highly professionalized charity trust.” It charged that 
the Red Cross was “taking over i ne after another the functions of 
our Government and using its delegated power to swell private in- 
comes.” Coincident with this “expose,” a resolutirrn to investigate the 
Red Cross was introduced in the House of Representatives. 

Such public airing of questions could not help but rub the raw 
edges of wounds opened by the internal controversy over future ac- 
tivities and procedure. John Skcltoi. Williams, treasurer of the Red 
Cross, became the advocate of criticism within tlic organization; and 
the controversy finally reached such a peak that the Central Commit- 
tee formed a committee under the direction o^ W. Frank Persons, 
former director of civilian relief, to conduct a self-examination. 

The report of this committee was to become a landmark in the 
development of the Red Cross, not revolutionary in itself but as a 



guide to the long and painstaking reorganization of the Red Cross 
during the 1 920s. 

The Persons report suggested that the Red Cross realign itself as 
a domestic service organization. It suggested severe contraction of 
“overhead,” which pleased the critics of Red Cross “extravagance,” 
but gave no ground against those critics who would contract the serv- 
ices of the Red Cross. 

In its most important definition of Red Cross posture, the Persons 
report suggested that the organization turn away from its wartime 
structure in which chapters acted as branche. of an all-dominating 
National Red Cross, and maintain its national headquarters as a guid- 
ing, counseling and coordinating agency for chapter operations. To 
make this more evident, it suggested abolition of the very title of “gen- 
eral manager” of the National Red Cross. 

There would be three vice chairmen responsible respectively for do- 
mestic operations, foreign operations, and finances, who, with the 
chairman, would head up a National Staff Council. All departments 
and bureaus were to be replaced by “services” headed by individuals 
who as additional members of the Council would advise it on ques- 
tions of policy and activities. 

These changes were made and, more important from the standpoint 
of public criticism, the national payroll of Red Cross employees was 
finally reduced to less than 3,000 by June of 1922, when operational 
costs fell to one-sixth of similar costs during the war. 

On paper, much had been accomplished; most important the stem- 
ming of outside criticism. Internally the Red Cross was sick, even with 
encouragement given to many chapters by its new array of community 
services. The dispute over what the Red Cross should be in peacetime 
still remained an all-pervading issue. 

But attention again was diverted by the injection of a new person- 
ality into the Red Cross, a tough, eloquent and vigorous man — and 
furthermore a chairman who laid one basis of criticism by serving 
without compensation. 

Dr. Farrand accepted in October, 1921, the offer of the presidency 
of Cornell University. Judge John Barton Payne took over. 

+ + + + + 

The Settling Period 

The year 1922 was epochal in the Red Cross as an example of the 
organization’s growing pains. It needed remarkable durability to sur- 
vive the pulling and tugging in so many directions by its best friends. 
At times the now mellowing Headquarters might well have been 
termed Bedlam on the Potomac, with the bedlam multiplied by the 
idiosyncrasies of that erratic and headstrong genius, Judge Payne. 

Judge Payne will long be remembered in Washington for a host of 
personal reasons, of which his chairmanship of the Red Cross is only 
one. He was a West Virginian wh.i went to Chicago to become a 
celebrated lawyer, an art connoisseur and variously in wartime chair- 
man of the United States Shipping Board and Secretary of the Interior. 
His first impression on the Red Cross was that of a penny-pinching 
executive given to boastful wearing of mai'i-order clothes. 

He was a genius in organizational work but also was impetuous 
and capricious. Late one afternoon he issued an order abolishing the 
Nutrition Service of the Red Cross forthwith, on the assumption that 
this operation involved only running a cafeteria for employees. A bear 
for eflicicncy, he bombarded the chapters so lustily with memoranda 
on the virtue of economy that one harassed chairman finally wrote 
to National Headquarters a reply sufficiently pungent to be printed in 
the Red Cross Courier: 




If he means that we do not have a lot of secretaries, officials 
and flunkies sitting around doing nothing but drawing their sala- 
ries and answering fool questions that he may write here and ask, 
and strictly observing all the red tape that can be hatched up — 
we are guilty. . . . All our organization work without pay. 

While battling mightily for efficiency. Judge Payne for a time so 
forcefully backed a movement to cut down the number of professional 
aides in the social-service work of the Red Cross that James L. Feiser, 
a former general manager and later manager of the Southwest Divi- 
sion, resigned on a question of principle. But Judge Payne also was 
the type who could bring Feiser to a heart-to-heart conference, find 
a meeting of their minds, and bring back the seasoned expert to serve 
the Red Cross as a vice chairman for twenty more distinguished years. 

Rough as the experience was on the Red Cross and its personnel, 
the year 1922 in particular po.ssibly needed a Judge Payne. Decisions 
had to be made, vital decisions between the old Red Cross and the 
new — a knock-down struggle, however polite the words in which argu- 
ments were couched — between what was now the Boardman “old 
guard" and the new leadership that had come out of the war. 

Years later Ernest Bicknell, who was in the middle of the Payne 
barrage, summed it up in two warm paragraphs: 

During the war. we had. all of us, been busily expanding the 
Red Cross. Every day we took on new personnel, bought more 
things, watched things giow. It was an exhilarating experience. 
Everything was on the upgrade. Judge Payne came in, just in 
time to deflate the Red Cross. Constantly he had to let good men 
and women go. He had to simplify the organization. He had to 
reduce expenses. He had to be judge, jury and chief executioner. 
Nobody was happy about the situation. 

Without heat, without resenting the inevitable criticism and 
complaints, the Judge did what was needed to be done. It w'as 
necessary not to throw the organization into a panic, not to 
allow the fear to grow up that the Red Cross was being wrecked. 
Through all this difficult and dangerous process. Judge Payne 
moved calmly, without rancor, without bias. How well he did, we 
all know today. He was a strong man in the right place. And 

the settling period 


those who once feared him as a stern, cold man, learned to know 
him as warm-hearted and genial, with a great sense of humor, a 
great love of children and a mind, like his office door, often open. 

One wonders, with a smile, if Bicknell was able to maintain such 
an objective viewpoint at the time. 

The big controversy developed over the Persons report, within a 
short time after its adoption by the Central Committee, was supposed 
to have settled many questions once and for all. Two viewpoints de- 
veloped around the rather hazy terminology of the Red Cross charter 
itself, particularly with regard to “mitigating” and “preventing” the 
effects of disaster and suffering. 

The mitigators were those who would have the Red Cross in the 
main stand by, quietly waiting for disasters and then coping with them 
after the fact. The preventers were those who foresaw for the Red 
Cross a future in which it would, at the broadest construction, build 
itself into a dominant force in all fields of social service. It was logical 
that the paid personnel of the Red Cross, many of them experts in 
the social-service field with vision enough to see the challenge, were 
ranged most generally on the side of the preventers, the followers of 
Persons, Feiser and others. 

Nevertheless, the powerful prestige of the senior volunteers who 
had done so much to build the prewar Red Cross was present and it 
was vocal. 

Heading the group of mitigators was Miss Boardman herself, strong, 
firm and unbending, re-established in .11 her prestige by the holding of 
I'vo offices, those of secretary of the Red Cross and membership on 
the Executive Committee. Former President Taft and Robert W. de 
h’orest, both vice presidents of the Red Cross in 1922, were ranged 
alongside her, and their most vocal spokesman was Harvey Gibson, 
wartime general manager. Potent na.”..‘S indeed. And their feelings 
about the Red C^ross organization already had been summed up by 
Gibson in 1921, in a letter; 

All the king’s horses and all the king's men will never be able 
to make a dent in again getting it [the Red Cross] out of the 
hands of the thousands of professionals that are now' eating up 
its endowments and its resources by taking millions of dollars in 



salaries in trying to find things for the Red Cross to do to keep 

the chapters going . . . and last and most important from their 

point of view, continuing jobs for them. 

No such eloquently violent reply on behalf of the preventers appears 
in the records, but what was the Red Cross staff doing? Naturally, 
some of the personnel were fighting to retain their jobs, some were 
ambitious and some were stupid. Where in any organization do the 
exceptions not occur? Contrariwise, why was a social worker, whether 
Bicknell or a young college graduate, put on the payroll if not to 

The debate is as old as organized social work, and as current today 
(although sometimes less apparent in such organizations) as it was in 

It seems quite possible in retrospect that the Red Cross found its 
modern bearings, which bore such tremendous results in the great 
flood period of the 1950s, because of the moderate voice of Dr. Far- 
rand, who now had stepped from the chairmanship to a post as more 
or less impartial arbiter. 

The great debate on the issue came in the convention of chapters 
in 1922. At Red Cross conventions delegates do not pass on policy 
matters. They pass resolutions for consideration by the governing 
board, but may not make laws for the Red Cross. Their importance 
lies in the open forum provided by the convention system. 

At this convention. Miss Boardman spoke in a manner that seemed 
to some of her hearers rather anomalous. The veteran leader, who 
more than anyone else had instituted chapter work for the purpose of 
building a living organization prior to 1917, now questioned whether 
the Red Cross had not “lost its bearings.” 

Dr. Farrand agreed, when he .spoke in his turn, that the Red Cross 
must not become a “great organized charitable society,” but he gave 
a renewed definition to its status as predominantly a great volunteer 
society necessarily trained and coordinated by professionals. There is, 
he said, “nothing more dangerous . . . than volunteer service un- 
guided or unchecked or unadvised by expert knowledge.” 

The pattern pictured by Dr. Farrand was on a plane above such 
efforts as some chapters were making to collect and distribute old 
clothes to the poor, to displace other organized local charitable work, 


the settling period 

or actually to substitute Red Cross technical experts for officials of 
municipal and state organizations. 

The conclusion was that the Red Cross could not be maintained for 
emergency work alone, unless there were continuing chapter activities 
to keep volunteers in touch with at least the rudiments of those things 
they must do in disasters. 

When Miss Boardraan became more critical of the Persons-Feiser- 
Farrand viewpoint, Judge Payne picked up his pen and notified ner 
that in his view, rather than see her feelings prevail in the Red Cross, 
he would have it scrapped. 

Before the year was out, the Central Committee ended the “great 
debcle” with a new statement of policy: 

Military welfare and disaster were to be the first concerns of the 
American Red Cross. 

Chapters were to give priority to aid for disabled veterans and 
disaster preparedness. 

Chapters must avoid duplication of the work of other agencies. 

Promotion of public health should be a major undertaking, with 
continuance through trained workers of both the nursing pro- 
gram and the family welfare program. 

Probably no one who voted for this program realized, after all the 
confu.sions of the years since 1918, that in it were embedded the 
foundation stones of the modern American National Red Cross. 

But there is a wide river between policy and action, and often be- 
tween statistics and reality. So pcrspcf’tive requires that the focus shift 
again back to the field, to the chapters. 


From the statistical standpoint, and regardless of this qualification, 
the American Red Cross chapters after World War I constituted a 
truly national organization. Retrenchments there might be, shrinkage 
in income and membership and occasional policy disputes, but the 
Red Cross was big. It never again would be small or remotely com- 
parable to its numerical or monetary strength prior to 1917. For all the 
foreseeable future its chapters would “cover every mile of the United 



But what were some of the qualifications in the new era in which 
the Red Cross stood as a partially demobilized wartime force — whose 
sleeping strength could be called up in disasters (very rare) or mus- 
tered for ingenious community service (very spotty)? 

The number of Red Cross enrolled and recognized chapters would 
never again drop below 3,500. In 1922 they totaled 3,627. In that 
same year membership, based on annual fund collections of a mini- 
mum of one dollar each, stood at 3,955,500. In 1925 this roll would 
reach the “bottom of the barrel” in the postwar depletion, with 
3,012,000, How sad that total looked cor.^pared with wartime mem- 
bership that had soared over 20,000,000. On the other side of the 
coin was the fact that at this lowest point after 1917 the Red Cross 
had more than 10 times the number of supporting members it had in 
December, 1916, when the figure was 286,461, and more than 133 
times the total membership of 22,499 enrolled in December, 1915. 

Such growth in chapters and membership was hardly failure, except 
for the concern about the retreat from the peak. But there were grave 
misgivings throughout the 1920s and 1930s concerning the highly 
diverse character and quality of the chapters and their operations in 
relationship to the new world in which they must make their mark. 

In the main, the picture was one in which an optimistic National 
Headquarters pumped innumerable program suggestions into chapters, 
backing them up with personal visits by representatives of Headquar- 
ters, and hoped for the best. But it was disappointed with this best. 

One optimistic Headquarters spokesman said, “The new program 
was centered in the community and stressed local interests and self- 
determination. It was so broad that every chapter, big or little, could 
find something of interest.” 

To help the chapters find something of interest the peacetime or- 
ganization maintained three regional offices — Eastern, Midwestern and 
Pacific — and a staff of field representatives. But the field staff setup 
required almost as much paper work as many chapters. In some cases, 
field representatives had whole states as their “beats,” and visits actu- 
ally were apportioned on the basis of two a year to the more active 
chapters, one each to less active chapters, and none whatsoever to 
perhaps half of the chapters because there was nothing in them to 
warrant such visits. 

Inevitably many of the chapters complained of lack of attention 



from Headquarters, and the national staff complained of the diflSculties 
of handling its work with the limited resources available. Funds were 
tight not only in Washington; most of the chapters were destitute 
in so far as meeting the types of programs that National Headquarters 
encouraged them to pursue. 

It is also true that at this period — and it’s not too far exaggerated 
from the picture ever since — it was almost impossible to define what 
constituted a Red Cross chapter; for nearly every one was an excep 
tion in some regard. 

Some chapters were virtually satrapies within themselves, with large 
conserved endowments, huge office buildings as headquarters and 
whole regions under their control. 

The Los Angeles Chapter covered an area 100 miles square, and 
operated 49 branches out of its headquarters. Within the chapter’s 
geographical limits, as its potential support, lived a population greater 
than the combined total residents of all the cities of Idaho. 

The Chicago Chapter covered two and one-half counties, operated 
some 60 branches and drew on a multimillion population. 

The New York and Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Boston Chapters 
were all “big business” with wealthy supporters and big budgets, as 
was Washington, where Miss Mabel Boardman continued to hold 
sway through two more decades. 

To some of these. National Headquarters seemed a miserly source 
of assistance; to others, as they remitted fifty cents from each local 
contribution of whatever size from a dollar upward, it seemed a spend- 
thrift sapping of the local contributions. And National Headquarters 
was not always impressed by chapter Size alone One rcp('rt pointed 
out that a chapter in a city of more than 300.000 never could muster 
more than 70 persons to attend its annual meetings. 

At the other extreme were chapters that hardly knew their owm 
limits, such as Tucson, Arizona, covering 12,000 square miles with a 
total population of only 93,000 persons, or Buford, South Carolina, 
with fifteen islands within its jurisdiction. Some Red Cross field work- 
ers reported that they could not even find crossroads villages listed as 
chapters on the rolls, let alone the local residents who might have 

In fact, the Red Cross travelers had many viewpoints. Miss Board- 
man toured the Southwest and West in 1925 and returned to report 


THS scrniNo pir,ob 

that she was shocked by the “undignified and often wretchedly poor 
offices” which gave the Red Cross an inferior position and discour- 
aged volunteers. These offices frequently were a room in a decrepit 
courthouse basement, in a garage, or even the drawer of a housewife's 
kitchen table. 

Mutual understanding within the Red Cross still was in an evolu- 
tionary process. One disillusioned field worker wrote back: “These 
people do as they please, and the national organization can accept it 
or not.” Another with more patience and understanding born of ex- 
perience, reported: “After four and a half years in the field, the writer 
still gets an almost physical shock sometimes at the contrast when she 
arrives on the spot and compares the aspect of matters viewed from 
that angle with their aspect viewed from Headquarters. Probably quite 
a percentage of field staff will end up in the madhouse because of 
these frequent mental adjustments.” 

But there also were bright spots, epitomizing what the Red Cross 
could be in a community’s life. Of one it was reported: 

No chapter in this territory is doing such sound work, and in 
no community could there be a finer Red Cross spirit developed 
solely by the fine chapter program that is being carried on con- 
servatively but consistently by the chapter. The Board meets 
regularly and with almost perfect attendance, and every member 
of the chapter is interested in its program and progress ... the 
joyous sort of spii it in the office, the Board members dropping in 
because they like being there, the volunteers having a good time at 
their work, and the fact that this chapter is reaching young and 
old, rich and poor, in the country and in the city, which seems to 
me the only way a chapter should be. 

Gradually one big fact was being learned by the Red Cross, A chap- 
ter pretty generally reflects the type and spirit of the community where 
it is located. The Red Cross chapter can not be exclusive — either 
better than its community or worse — and neither can it be aloof. 

The Red Cross volunteer is, as they were learning, seldom only a 
Red Cross volunteer. Community leaders, men and women, are leaders 
because they enjoy working for their community. If active, they usually 
are active in many ways. The leader of the Rotary Club will also be a 
leader in the Red Cross or other community welfare organizations. 



The Red Cross leader is nr jbably also a spark plug in the Parent- 
Teacher Association and t le Y.M.C.A. If a community is lacking in 
enterprising individuals, t*iere will be no Red Cross leadership or any 
other worth mentioning. 

So why the carrying ah ig of so many Red Cross chapters? 

Even the weakest responds a little bit in time of need. Perhaps it 
raises a few dollars in the annual fund drive; its collections may ’^e 
magnificent in a call to meet the demands of a national disaster. And 
should war come, as it came twice after the long frustrating experi- 
ence of the 1920-30 decade, the roots for growth do exist. 

For the long haul, despite the beefing and the complaints between 
National Headquarters and the chapters, there was an impressive pro- 
gram of constructive work going ahead, even though spotty in quality 
and widely varied in type. With all the qualifications, there was no 
state within which the Red Cross beacon was not kept lighted by a few 
signally outstanding regular Red Cross activities, in a^ddition to disaster 
work ranging from flood and storm to the stark needs of whole popu- 
lations caught up in the Great Depression. 

However the Red Cross might fight over its own soul-searching, the 
public was getting its money’s worth. The public proved this point by 
slo^^ but consistent growth both in membership and contribution, ris- 
ing after a small slump in the early 1930s to a total membership in 
mid- 1941 of 9, 190,474. 


If the chapters are the components o; the motor running the Red Cross 
machine, and the motor must idle a lot in peacetime, the batteries 
sparking this motor are natural disasters. Without natural disasters 
the Red Cross might, in a protracted period of peace and prosperity, 
be hard put to maintain itself in public interest; but more important, 
without the Red Cross what would the result of disasters be? 

By the 1920s, and through the 1930s, the public was beginning to 
see in action a machine that cost the taxpayer nothing, and that on 
the whole could roll smoothly to the task of “helping people back on 
their feet.” 

Somewhere in the United States, on an average of more than twice 
a week over the twenty-year span from 1921 through 1940, Red Cross 
workers — chapter volunteers guided and assisted by a skeleton staff of 



“pros” from National Headquarters — swung into action in disasters. 
Statistically there were in that period 2,200 natural upheavals in the 
United States, seldom reappearing twice in the same place, that de- 
stroyed homes and ravaged human lives to a degree greater than could 
be handled exclusively by the local resources of the communities they 

How many persons were assisted with anything from shelter for a 
night and a hot meal to rebuilt houses, replanted crops or emergency 
funds to dress children and send them back to school, could not be 
recorded. But the measure of the help, in which the United States ac- 
cepted this almost amorphous thing known as the Red Cross as its 
agent in humane activity, was recorded. And the total was almost an 
even $100,000,000 contributed in addition to the annual donations 
made in the fund drives. 

Here was the high point of the Red Cross’s public acceptance, and 
here was its greatest challenge, for in disaster rehabilitation lurk the 
worst of all public relations problems. 

Who handles these problems, and faces the consequences? The pro- 
fessional staff, to be sure, but to a far greater degree the volunteers 
who staff the committees, make the awards and work with and in the 

Now and then a gifted person among the Red Cross volunteers sets 
down things that never could be gleaned from the official reports. A 
classic was written after the 1927 Missi.ssippi flood by William Alex- 
ander Percy, Mississippi’s “Mr. Will,” in his classic book Lanterns on 
the Levee, published in 1941. 

“Mr. Will” was the son of a Mississippi planter, who returned from 
service in France in World War I to write eloquently about his native 
South. In 1940 he set down his autobiography and adverted to his 
experience as chairman of the Red Cross Chapter, of Greenville, 
Mississippi, during the period when the state’s river namesake sub- 
merged his rich delta section for four whole months. Of the aftermath 
of rehabilitation he said: 

I have noticed that if you offer people a chance to give, they 
are little less than angels; but if you afford them a chance to re- 
ceive, they almost convince you somebody is right about the need 
for a hell. The shabby truth is that in June the Red Cross began 



its campaign of rehabilitation, and people began to receive — 
food and clothing, of course, but in addition household goods, 
farms supplies and money. 

Not only did the Rf'd Cross do a magnificent job of giving, but 
T don’t think there wus a fraternal organization, or an organized 
charity in America thui did not donate most prodigally. Particu- 
larly 1 recall the generosity of all Masons and the Christian Sci- 
entists. Our heroic people became mere people, they not only 
received, they grabbed. Everybody wanted what was coming to 
him and a little more. ... It was a wretched period. 

But wretched or not, each new disaster found its same response, 
and to such a degree that the Red Cross Central Committee was able 
to place its operations on a budgeted and businesslike basis. Out of 
the surplus carried over from World War I, a disaster reser ;c fund of 
$5,000,000 was set up. This provided working capital for relief wher- 
ever needed. If local, regional or national appeals \Cere warranted by 
the need, the fund was restored from any surplus, which not often 
happened. Usually the fund was put back to par by appropriation from 
the receipts of the next general fund campaign. 

The pattern of disaster relief changed in character but not in phi- 
losophy from the groundwork laid first by Miss Barton and de- 
veloped under Miss Boardman’s leadership. Only now the disasters 
were bigger — more people were hit by each one and the costs of things 
had risen prodigiously. And communications improved by wartime 
development made need more cas^’y reported. No longer was any 
community out of touch with its own neighbors, or the United States 
compartmented into isolated cells. 

And whether it was efficient or not in .spots, the Red Cross was 
there, prepared in some degree, and more than that of any other or- 
ganization, both to be on the job and reach out nationwide if neces- 
sary for assistance for the victims. And in this field it was completely 
accepted by those who wished to give, even though occasionally 
damned by the greedy, the confused and the ignorant among those it 
helped to rehabilitate. 

As the disasters of the years marched past, the story renewed itself 
on every occasion, whether in the Florida hurricane, most devastating 
of its kind, in 1926; the Mississippi flood of 1927; the Caribbean hur- 



ricane of 1928; the great Ohio River resurgence in 1937; or the un- 
precedented hurricane that swept New York and New England in the 
late 1930s. 

Each disaster bespoke its own challenge, and each required differing 
operations, but the Red Cross was there — to the degree that the statis- 
tics would be interminable. 

These things people saw, and some remembered. Less evident was 
the growing list of volunteers who minded the daily chores of chapter 
work, enhanced the national programs, and were ready because of the 
rudimentary experience gained in work that bespoke no headlines. 

During this period the chapter idea — even though not in all the 
chapters — was maturing, developing and flowering. 


Poor as they might appear in statistics, the chapters, a little here and a 
little there, were doing the things that perhaps will always be the prime 
function of the Red Cross: teaching, training and coordinating com- 
munity skills. 

The Public Health Nursing program launched with such fanfare 
right after World War I was a failure statistically, with not more than 
1,152 chapters ever being counted as active in this field; but out of it 
grew an awareness in many states and cities that led to establishment 
of these very services as part of the public service. 

It also acted as a program-builder, because its many branches pro- 
vided a dozen other means of employing chapter talent. After all, it 
was sound policy that the Red Cross should not try to duplicate what 
others could or were willing to do. And if in its pioneering, as earlier 
in support of the fight against tuberculosis, it sparked mass interest 
in public health and public nursing, in sanitation and preventive medi- 
cine, it lost nothing in prestige with the passing on of these activities 
to other specialized and professional groups. It had enough to do, if 
the remainder were done well. 

There was the Camp and Hospital Service for example, which in 
1930 was still a major activity among disabled veterans, and the even 
larger Home Service for their families — involving everything from im- 
mediate relief of threatened destitution because of occurrences beyond 

the settling period 


a family’s control to helpful work in filling out interminable govern- 
ment forms. 

Most of this work gradually passed to the Veterans Administration, 
but it was the Red Cross that showed how to coordinate these activi- 
ties, to use with minimum waste skilled persons in handling deep and 
serious human problems. This program, too, brought forth a lot of 
criticism, but the job had to be done. 

The Home Service project sparked several hundred chapters t j try 
another field called officially Civilian Home Service — practical aid for 
families and children who did not happen to be related to veterans but 
whose needs would be as great in the face of emergency. Judge Payne 
once called this activity “moonshine Home Service,” but the chapters 
which pioneered it laughed off the irascible old boy’s description and, 
where they felt the community could use this type of work, they did 
it. But Judge Payne’s viewpoint carried a lot of weight, ana chapter 
efforts often ran headlong into competition with other agencies that 
knew, or thought they knew, more about this type of work. The term 
has disappeared from the list of Red Cross activities, but across the 
country Red Cross chapters still cooperate substantially with sister 
organizations in the same sort of work. 

In the meantime the Red Cross was hitting the jackpot of popular 
support through two services that dated from the recent but prewar 
past. Life Saving Service and First Aid Service were embodying hun- 
dreds of chapters in the mam currents of interest in their communities. 

Life Saving, as with so many successful ventures, saw the Red Cross 
chapter going out and working wil l other organizations, finding col- 
laborators instead of creating competitors. And in a country taking 
more and more to the water, there was a popular response. Soon the 
Red Cross was the recognized organization to lead a vast project under 
the slogan: “Everybody a swimmer and cvciy swimmer a lifesaver.” 

The “students” of the Red Cross units were themselves experts and 
appreciated what the work meant. Through the Red Cross life-saving 
institutes passed camp counselors, instructors for the Y.M.C.A. and 
Y.W.C.A., Boy Scout leaders. Red Cross chapter teachers and many 
other applicants. Today the Red Cross badge is the universal symbol 
of the trained life guard. 

First Aid Service did not reach as many people directly but perhaps 
has saved far more lives. This course was offered through the chap- 



ters, complete with manuals and trained instructors — soon the gradu- 
ate students became the volunteer instructors — at a time when even 
rudimentary first-aid work such as applying a tourniquet or giving a 
specific simple antidote for poison was known to hardly anyone except 
a doctor or trained nurse. 

Through its courses the Red Cross opened the door for such train- 
ing to all policemen and firemen. Like Life Saving, also taught to these 
groups, the Red Cross seal of approval has become the accepted and 
almost only standard, and through the years it has spread to factories, 
labor unions and other groups wherever men or women face unex- 
pected hazards in their daily lives. 

More controversial was the development in this period of a formal- 
ized organization of Red Cross volunteers, cutting across and support- 
ing all the services, but opening special doors of recognition to those 
volunteers who would pledge themselves to specific responsibilities in 
the services of their choice. This was the child of Miss Boardman 
herself, a throwback to her earlier ideas of the Red Cross chapter as a 
dedicated group of responsible and perhaps prosperous community 

She founded the Volunteer Service and became its chairman in 
1923, and she headed it for seventeen years thereafter. The service 
was born in controversy over the advisability of creating an elite corps 
of volunteers, in contrast to the many practical volunteers who worked 
when Red Cross needed them but had not the time or, in some cases, 
the social acceptance for membership in the Volunteer Service of their 
home chapter. That controversy has never quite died out, although 
generally easier economic conditions have opened the doors for more 
women desiring to do so to enroll. 

Volunteer Service required from the start a pledge to devote eight- 
een working hours a year to the Red Cross, or an average of an hour 
and a half per month. As reward for this enrollment the volunteer had 
the privilege of wearing on duty or on such occasions as parades and 
civic celebrations the uniform of the volunteer with a pin signifying 
her special service — Administrative, Motor, Canteen, Nurses’ Aide, 

More important, in some chapters, acceptance became as treasured 
as membership in a college club might be. It denoted, in an era of less 
general prosperity, a certain degree of leisure not permitted to working 


the settling period 

women or the heads of large and financially limited households; in too 
many cases it represented social acceptance by the tight little cliques of 
women who ran the Red Cross chapter as a sacred preserve just as they 
ran every other social movement in the community. 

On the plus side, the rewards did attract a certain number of vol- 
unteers who otherwise might not have become interested in the Red 
Cross, and the fair conclusion is that such chapter activities as sur- 
vived the humdrum of the 1920s and 1930s owed much of their con- 
tinuity of effort to the recognized volunteers. 

In any event, the Volunteer Service survived its patroness and lives 
today; and by the same token there are important leaders of the Red 
Cross movement, themselves volunteers, who consider the distinction 
between volunteer and paid worker to be one of the worst elements of 
the modern Red Cross organization. 

The Challenge of 
the Depression— Puhlic 
Agency or Political Stooge? 

One of the historic problems of welfare agencies is that they 
suffer their worst depressions when the public, their clients, are well 
off. Then when hard times hit, the agencies are criticized because they, 
like their contributors, have not taken advantage of “prosperity” to 
bu'ld up their reserves. 

That was how the depression eaught the Red Cross. As the sequel, 
it then found itself boxed in a position where it had to fight off well- 
meant attempts to subsid’’e it with government appropriations that 
would have wrecked forever its character. The decisions it had to 
make were hard ones, and in rctr -spect a large part of the strength 
that preserved the Red Cross came from the increasingly irascible 
Judge Payne. 

The question revolved around one point, whether the Red Cross — 
which to outsiders was big, unique and strung regardless of the inter- 
nal debates that were eroding it — was a machine accountable to the 
public or to the government. In the end the public won, but as always 
there were vital changes in activity and outlook. 

For the Red Cross, the Great Depression provided almost as many 
tests and challenges as war itself, but at the same time a great stimula- 
tion in the one simple fact that it gave the organization, from Washing- 
ton to the remotest chapter, something tangible to do. Certainly with- 
out the stimulus of the work engaged in because of the depression 




there would have been far less experienced manpower among staff and 
volunteers to take up the problems that came with war in 1941. But in 
the meantime it collected bruises too. 

The depression created an immediate problem for the Red Cross in 
matters of policy decision, and after policy was determined the ques- 
tion was money. 

As a national relief agency it had built up precedents under a char- 
ter that authorized and required it to do certain things in time of war 
or national calamities. But the question was whether the withering of 
economic blight was a calamity in the same sense as a flood or hurri- 
cane. After all, there had been regional droughts almost every year, 
and dislocations or changing markets had created sweeping waves of 
unemployment in many sectors, particularly New England. 

The money question was just as vexing. What would any program 
big enough to do any good cost? It would certainly run into many 
millions. The Red Cross was large as relief agencies were measured, 
but how big was big once it stepped into the pool? 

Actually for such a machine it had pitifully small resources in 1 929 
— a little over $16,000,000 in available reserves at National Head- 
quarters. It had spent, despite the retrenchments already noted, $10,- 
000,000 more than it had taken in during the decade after 1918. Its 
annual revenue had dropped to approximately $3,000,000 but the Red 
Cross still was spending $4,000,000, taking $ 1 ,000,000 a year from 
its reserves. Of course, the chapters had their own incomes, but in 
national disasters it is up to National Headquarters to find the money 
to foot the bills: the chapters provide only people except for the cost 
of such work as they undertake in their local areas on their own 

It was true that $1,000,000 of the $3,000,000 annual income out 
of which National Headquarters supported the national program came 
from invested capital, a kitty of money at which critics always have 
pointed a finger of question and asked, “How about all that money 
hoarded by the Red Cross?” 

It never is quite understood that the principal of the Red Cross en- 
dowment funds can no more be touched by the Red Cross than a trust 
fund set up by a man to provide income for his family. These en- 
dowment funds, usually left by persons in legacies to the Red Cross, 


the challenge of the depression 

have the same strings attached — spend the interest, but if the capital 
is dissipated someone goes to jail. 

For a while, in the debate over the Red Cross that flared up in 
Congress in the relief days, it looked as if everybody would be con- 
signed to the dog house if not to jail, regardless of what was done or 
what was not done by 


Most of us have forgotten at this writing that the Great Depression 
that hit industry, the cities and workers coincident with the stock 
market collapse in 1929 followed a drought in the previous summer 
that virtually eliminated all crops in the Southwest and great portions 
of the West. Furthermore, it came after years of declining prices. This 
calamity constituted poverty’s ultimate blow to millions of formerly 
stable, prosperous and frugal persons. 

Unlike the industrial depression that laid a cretjping paralysis on 
job-holders, the drought was immediate and calamitous. As winter 
came in 1930 the United States faced for the first time the stark fact 
that millions of citizens simply had nothing to cat, and there was no 
place where they could borrow or beg the barest necessities for their 

President Hoover, in his pro forma capacity as honorary president 
of the Red Cross, asked in August, 1930, that it stand ready to render 
such assistance as might be required as a result of the drought. I'he 
request was accepted as valid, despite serious doubts expressed in some 
quarters as to whether the drougf’ itself came under the “disaster” 
relief authorization of the Red Cross charter. More important in 
retrospect, it may be cited that when President Hoover asked the Red 
Cross for potential relief he asked the Red Cross alone; not one or 
more of the numerous other welfare agencies in the United States. 

Judge Payne responded by saying that the entire $5,000, 000 dis- 
aster reserve would be used for that purpose, if necessary, but he and 
the remainder of the leadership began seriously to wonder how far 
$5,000,000 would go in the face of potential relief needs covering 
millions of persons. The remainder of the total $16,000,000 must be 
preserved as security for other work. 1 hereafter the Red Cross rolled 
with the calls upon it for several months. 



First, money was spent for seed and supplies to assist fanners in put- 
ting in fail crops. But it was only a matter of weeks before the chap- 
ters in the affected areas began receiving streams of destitute persons 
for whom a crop months hence might mean ultimate recovery, but 
who must have clothes, food and fuel now. 

The chapters picked up this burden where possible, since this was 
more a community responsibility than a national Red Cross operation, 
but soon Headquarters had to begin supplementing chapter resources. 
By the end of 1 930 an unknown amount of chapter funds had been 
poured into this work, while National Headquarters had seen $1,000,- 
000 of its disaster reserves go out for the seed program and for chap- 
ter aid. And the surface of demand had hardly been scratched. 

The whole thing turned into dramatic debate in January, 1931. On 
the sixth of that month. Judge Payne — who apparently was more vocal 
than thoughtful at the moment — said he thought the Red Cross could 
continue the necessary relief program through the winter without ask- 
ing for additional funds, but he said he would “yell” if necessary. He 
“yelled” exactly one week later, and President Hoover thereupon is- 
sued an appeal for contributions to a special $10,000,000 Red Cross 
fund for drought relief. 

This call for special contributions innocently precipitated the first 
crisis in which the Red Cross haci to decide, once and for all, whether 
it would remain as it was or be sucked into the pond of government- 
subsidized and accordingly politically controlled agencies. This condi- 
tion must be summarized far more briefly than its importance in the 
long picture warrants, but it was drama of a high order. 

One must remember that in 1931 the dramatic political contest be- 
gan to determine the federal government’s responsibility for welfare 
work — the bitter fight between the negative attitude led by President 
Hoover and the Republican Party, who lost out in 1932 to the New 
Deal, with its positive stand for government relief. 

Senator Joe T. Robinson, Democratic Majority Leader of the Senate 
in a Congress where his party controlled both Senate and House, intro- 
duced a measure to appropriate $25,000,000 to be given to the Red 
Cross “for the purpose of supplying food, medicine, medical aid, and 
other essentials to afford adequate relief in the present national 
emergency to persons otherwise unable to procure the same.” 

The Red Cross and the President protested against such action. 



The immediate effect of this proposal was to put a damper on the 
Red Cross’s appeal for contributions. The debate in Congress became 
so bitter that the Literary Digest commented that the Red Cross “may 
stumble out of the Washington cataclysm itself a refugee from disaster, 
and badly in need of '.he succor for which it is famous.” To criticism 
by the Democratic leaj. rship was added the oratorical attacking fire of 
Representative Fiorello H. LaGuardia, nominally a R.epublican who 
soon was to become the “reform” Mayor of New York, and of ^uch 
radical publications as the Nation. On the other hand, as was to be 
expected, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune supported 
the Red Cross position. 

But it was clearly evident that Congress was in a mood to grant the 
appropriation anyway, and thereupon ensued a remarkable appearance 
by Judge Payne before the House Appropriations Committee. On 
January 28, Judge i’ayne testified as spokesman for the unanimous 
opinion of the Central Committee that the Red Cross did not desire 
the $25,000,000 in the form of an appropriation, 'and that if the ap- 
propriation were voted the Red Cross would decline it. 

Judge Payne pointed out that his position was precisely that taken 
in World War I by Chairman Henry Davison of the War Council — still 
an active member of the Central Committee — and added, “All we 
pray for is that you let us alone and let us do the job.” 

This testimony killed the appropriating fever, and the public — at 
last shown clearly that thi' Red Cross belonged to the people, not to 
politicians — put the $10,000,000 drive over the top. Furthermore, a 
subsequent survey of 4,000 editor' ils in daily and weekly new.spapers 
commenting on this debate showed that fully 00 per cent approved 
the Red Cross position. 

How did the Red Cross do the job after refusing to become a tool 
of bureaucracy? A few figures tell a graph 'c stoiy, in which it is well 
to remember that in the time of depression prices it was possible to 
provide the basic food for a family of four in drought-blighted Ar- 
kansas for a month at a total cost of $8.00. 

Up to the time that spring crops w'ere harvested, the Red Cross did 
plow $16,000,000 into this relief program, plus unknown amounts 
put into the same hopper by chapters. Aid was given to 2,500,000 
persons in twenty-three states, or more than required assistance after 
the great Mississippi flood of 1 927. 



The job was handled by a peak roll of 2,000 paid employees, but 
the great bulk of the work was done by more than 37,000 chapter 
volunteers. And precedents were set, and lessons learned, that con- 
tributed many new wrinkles to future operations. 

When the Red Cross spent this relief money, it purchased in so far 
as was possible relief supplies on the spot where they were to be used, 
so that the purchase of supplies in itself took business into distraught 
communities. As part of the food-supply program it introduced hot 
lunches into schools that eventually supplied these for 184,000 chil- 
dren, thus improving the diet of the children .md teaching remote and 
backward school areas how to carry on this essential type of health 
program. In other communities the Red Cross, as part of the aid pro- 
gram, instituted popular teaching courses in canning and food con- 
servation, plus many other innovations. 

If some of this sounds a little on the side of excessive zeal, one must 
remember that the drought brought need to some areas that had lived 
apart from modern development of the most simple sort for a century 
and more. 

Countless articles have been written as to how the drought-relief 
work done in the more backward areas in 1931 taught backwoods 
mothers how to feed their families a more varied diet, and one as easy 
to obtain or prepare as the traditional fatback, corn pone and greens. 
Very few have given sufficient credit to the teacher — the Red Cross 
representative working alongside many other willing but lesser-trained 

However, the Red Cross workers had not completed filling out their 
reports on drought relief before the organization was plunged by cir- 
cumstances and the depression into an operation for which this seemed 
little more than rehearsal; and it again faced the necessity to decide on 
its posture in the face of demands upon it such as no leader prior to 
1932 had experienced in the remotest degree. 


The Red Cross had to face the issue that much of the political leader- 
ship that came to power with the New Deal in the election of 1932 
opposed private welfare agencies of any sort, believed that government 
agencies could do a better job in the same field. With the full impact 


the challenge of the depression 

of the depression, the professional social worker, the planner of broad 
projects financed by large appropriations of tax funds, was having his 
first day in Washington. 

The Red Cross was a nonparticipant but a focus of attention in a 
struggle between deeply convinced forces on either side, each con- 
scious of new demands on welfare work such as had never before 
faced the United States. 

The Red Cross must work through this era and save itself, if it 
were to be saved, by showing aptitudes and reasons for existence under 
circumstances more difficult than those imposed by war, because un- 
like war the depression found it operating with co/istantly shrinking 
resources. The Red Cross, spurred by its traditions, rolled up its 
sleeves and went to work. 

To anticipate the narrative in a small degree, it may be recorded at 
this point that in 1934, after the Works Progress Admini..tri.fion had 
been appropriated billions of dollars to stem the tide of unemploy- 
ment, its administrator, Harry Hopkins, leader of the bloc that had 
argued hardest for direct government aid, looked back and said: “Red 
Cross chapters throughout America were the first line of defense dur- 
ing those trying months before the states and the counties and finally 
the Federal Government put its funds at the disposal of the unem- 

Hopkins was by then the most intimate confidante of President 
Roosevelt. His earlier experience had included five years on the staff 
of the Red Cross, from 1917 through 1 922. 

Actually the chapters decided *he Red Cross policy on relief in 
1931, when drought relief already x'as the cloak for supplying assist- 
ance to persons and families who had never w'orked near a farm. One 
report stated: “The situation locally is so overwhelming that no agency 
is standing on ceremony these days, but eli are endeavoring to give 
relief as speedily as possible.” 

Early in 1932 a roundup showed that 1,800 chapters of the Red 
Cross, or more than half the total, were participating in community 
unemployment relief programs. Of these, 400 had already received 
financial assistance from the Washington organization. 

Of course, the Red Cross was not alone. The Red Cross chapter 
acted as part of its community, which it was — one agency among 
many, but generally w'ith larger outside resources because of the ex- 



istence of the reserve funds in National Headquarters. But it was hid- 
ing its light under a bushel of halfhearted publicity, so much so that 
the manager of the Eastern Area cautioned Washington that, “We 
need to turn from our policy of silence and give all possible publicity 
to what wc are doing.” He and many others in the Red Cross con- 
sidered this the best defense against those who would swallow up 
privately supported agencies by merging them into bureaucracies. 

Among the activities, hardly admitted as yet by Washington, were 
works by chapters carrying the major burden of relief in their home 
cities, because the local residents able to coniribute money trusted the 
good judgment and integrity of the Red Cross. 

Outstanding in this work was Birmingham, Alabama, which in 
1932 gave aid to an average 12,000 families a month and paid out 
wages in various work programs to 4,400 men. In its work projects it 
paid men $2.00 a day for three-day stints of work in public parks or 
in gardens growing vegetables for distribution to the needy. This 
chapter set up six food-distribution stores, and even supported a toy 

In the meantime, other chapters were just as active — assisting coal 
miners in Pennsylvania, lumberjacks in the Northwest, transient work- 
ers. The job was nationwide, and hence the response. 

All told in 1932, Red Cross chapters put $7,500,000 of their own 
resources into these programs, including projects benefiting 2,000,000 
of the unemployed. And while doing this job the leadership had to 
make another great decision. 

Now it was President Hoover who asked not that the Red Cross 
accept a subsidy but that it take on a great responsibility for distribu- 
tion of government aid. The federal government held in surplus storage 
85,000,000 bushels of wheat and 844,000 bales of cotton, with a total 
value of $73,000,000. If this could be turned into flour, livestock 
feed, and cloth or clothing, it would constitute a vast relief project at 
no fresh cost to the government for the raw stock it already owned. 

At no point was the Red Cross to have its own funds enriched, but 
the request asked for a type of service that only the Red Cross could 
give. Why? It was the only organization in America entirely outside of 
government, with 3,600 chapters plus 10,000 branches, able to muster 
up to 1,000,000 volunteers competently supervised by a skeleton 
trained staff, and its integrity was unquestioned. For this was an opera- 


tion in which many unscrupulous persons could have made their for- 

The job handed to the Red Cross included the making of nonprofit 
contracts for the manufacture and distribution of finished food and 
goods, surveys to guide distribution, final distribution and ultimately 
absolute accounting for the handling of the project. The Red Cross 
accepted the assignment, and furthermore completed the whole opera- 
tion in a matter of months. The results seem staggering even now. 

There are 3,098 counties in the United States. Something from this 
government hoard, in processed form, went into 3,081 of those coun- 
ties, which was about as nationwide as a project could be. In shipping 
alone, the statistics included 30,000 railroad cars of flour and 7,800 
carloads of stock feed. 

Ten million barrels of flour were distributed to 5,800,000 families. 
More than 100,000,000 items of clothing were distributed, of which 
60,000,000 were made on factory contracts and the remainder were 
cut and sewed in chapters themselves. Many, practically all, other 
relief agencies cooperated with the Red Cross in this program, but the 
responsibility rested solely on the Red Cross. 

Of the work, President Hoover said that the nation had developed 
complete confidence in the “efficiency, ability and singlemindedness” 
of the Red Cross. 

Then for a while it appeared that this massive work might be the 
swan song, if not the tombstone, of the Red Cross. 

When after 1932 the federal government took over the relief program 
set up to alleviate the depression, the Red Cross — national and chap- 
ters alike — faced a self-searching period that had been postponed fiom 
1931 only by reason of the emergency activity of its early depression 
relief work. Now this was taken out of its hands. 

Income for National Headquarters held at approximately $3,000,- 
000 a year, but this seemed to be not only rock bottom but the peak 
of expectancy. The chapters found themselves on a similar lean basis. 
And yet the Red Cross must remain at a certain minimum level if it 
were to be prepared to meet the traditional disaster calls upon it, to 
work in co mmuni ties as it had been doing — ^work heartily approved 



by the communities themselves. But it could not expect the public to 
pay taxes on the one hand for public services supplied under the new 
order and contribute to private agencies in support of the same work. 

The field of the Red Cross faced drastic contraction, back to 
disaster relief and rehabilitation. First Aid, Water Safety, and very 
little else. Furthermore, it must learn to live within its income. 

By 1935, Hospital Service had been severely curtailed, and the 
services known as Home Hygiene and Care of the Sick had been 
combined with Public Health Nursing. Almost a third of the national 
personnel had been abolished and the remainder had taken cuts in 

By that time, the total payroll of National Headquarters had 
dropped to 693 persons, including the doctors, nurses, trained dis- 
aster workers and all the field workers cooperating with chapters. 
It was lean indeed for a nationwide organization, but at last the budget 
was balanced. 

Ironically, it was at this time and largely owing to the depression 
that a new series of charges were leveled at the Red Cross — that it was 
the tool of wealthy persons, that it had discriminated between whites 
and Negroes in some of the unemployment relief program, that it was 
a bureaucracy. 

Some of the criticism had reasons if not justification. Mistakes had 
been made by some chapters; in others there had been a feudal atti- 
tude. Other criticism was inspired by the political atmosphere in which 
some elements came forth to criticize any large work simply because 
it was large. And there was a distinct tinge, in this day of America’s 
political innocence, of the keenly perverted effort of communism to 
upset American thought by attacking its most established institutions. 

In this predicament two things contributed to perpetuating the Red 
Cross, if such oversimplification ever is possible. 

The first was a resurgence of national disasters, such as the extraor- 
dinary flood of the Ohio River in 1937, devastating territory from 
Pittsburgh westward, and other ravages of this period already noted. 
Nothing ever has revived the Red Cross in public esteem like a series 
of disasters. 

The other was a change in personal leadership, which seemed al- 
most to have been contrived by the guardian angel of the Red Cross. 

On January 24, 1935, Judge Payne died and thereby vacated the 


the challenge of the depression 

office of chairman of the Central Committee. In thirteen years he had 
carried the Red Cross through the long pull of postwar reorganization, 
had steered it through great operations despite the poverty of its 
tangible public support, and had defended it as heartily in the face of 
criticism as he had been ruthless internally in facing realities. 

Judge Payne, however, was not an individual who ever could under- 
stand the revolutionary social changes wrought by the depression and 
its child, the New Deal. Neither could the leaders of the new pol ical 
philosophy understand him. The result w'as an abyss of misapprehen- 
sion between National Headquarters and the whole Administration, 
centering in the White House only a five-minute walk. away. Perhaps, 
too, it was time for the Red Cross to have a quiet leadership, one that 
would permit the now seasoned professional staff headed by Vice 
Chairman Feiser to work out remaining problems and direct opera- 

In any event this was what occurred. 

Into the chairman.ship stepped, at the invitation of the Central 
Committee, a gentleman of the old school, wealthy, relaxed, unambi- 
tious Admiral Cary T. Grayson. His background, or his personality, 
could not have been farther removed from that of .Tudge Payne. He 
was a notable member of one of Virginia's leading families, a wealthy 
horse-breeder, and professionally a doctor vvho had been chosen by 
former President Wilson as his personal physician — hence the title 

More than that, he was a close friend of President Roosevelt. For 
three years, as chairman, he cou! ■* find a friendly welcome at the 
White House alike for himself and he Red Cros--, which the Admin- 
istration would see in a new light. Otherwise, he was content to let 
the Red Cross run its course, and it did just that. 






The Distant Roll of Drums 


I HERE WAS GRIM huniof in the role thrust upon ‘the Red Cross in 
1938, and the circumstances in which its management and member- 
ship alike found themselves. The manner in which it weathered this 
new storm certainly w'as helped again by a change in leadership — 
transfer of the chairmanship from Admiral Grayson, whose agreeable 
custodianship was ended by death, to Norman H. Davis, banker and 
diplomat who had headed missions to disarmament conferences under 
Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt, and who had been a vice president 
of the Red Cross since 1920. 

As the whirlwinds of internation ’1 tensions preceding World War 

II spurted into being. President Rc iscvelt and the Sta^e Department 
thrust a new job on the Red Cross. They poked it into crannies of 
tension as a representative of American policy where for political 
reasons the official gates were slammed shut. 

In China and in Spain the Red Cross was frankly used as an arm of 
foreign policy, even when its own leadership and the public to whicn it 
looked for support, as demonstrated through the chapters, were some- 
thing less than enthusiastic. This was a new wrinkle and a touchy one 
that might have had quite a different culminatiop. in the relationship 
between the Red Cross and the government had not total war finally 
ended the debate. 

The reasons for the position of the Red Cross in the field of foreign 





aid are rooted both in its charter and in its very formation as a special 
ward of the government. While the Red Cross raises its own funds and 
runs its own collective shop, it is more sensitive than any other welfare 
agency to the government, which is a sort of perpetual foster parent 
and trustee. 

Specifically the Red Cross cooperates with the armed forces and 
each year must submit to an audit of all of its expenditures by the 
Army. That is the law. Practice broadens the relationship to a far 
greater degree, in the same manner that family relationships are regu- 
lated in society without being always stipulated in writing. 

In the first place the presidency of the Red Cross, traditionally held 
by the President of the United States, is more than honorary. No Red 
Cross leader has ever yet turned down a request from the White House, 
although Roosevelt did have a little difficulty in the case of China. 
Second, it would be unthinkable for the Red Cross to cross government 
foreign policy even if it wished; so when a request is made to bolster 
foreign policy the Red Cross does as it is requested. 

Finally, the Red Cross exists as a part of the community in national 
affairs just as the chapter is a part of the local community where it is 
located. Agencies supported by public contributions must be respon- 
sive to their sponsors, and this has been interpreted to mean full and 
ready cooperation with whatever Washington administration is elected 
on behalf of its supporters. 

The Red Cross never had, therefore, the right or the will to ques- 
tion such requests made by American Presidents, whether these came 
from Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover or 
Franklin D. Roosevelt. But in the field of foreign affairs it discovered 
some new aspects of old problems when it tried to gain public support 
for international ventures thrust upon it by the White House at a time 
when Americans as individuals were predominantly nationalistic in 
their thinking. 

In 1938, after Japan had committed some of its most brutal strokes 
in conquering China, President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to make 
a gesture of sympathy toward China. However, he did not wish to 
antagonize Japan, with which the State Department was negotiating- 
He specifically asked the Red Cross to put on a drive for a special 
$ 1 ,000,000 fund for relief of Chinese civilians. The money was hardly 


the distant roil of drums 

a drop in the bucket in relation to the need if any real relief effort were 
to be attempted, but the sum might seem impressive as a political ges- 
ture pure and simple. 

Acting against their better judgment, because they knew well the 
attitude of local communities, the Red Cross leaders launched the 
drive. How correct was their view was shown after two weeks when 
only $10,000 had been raised. By the end of March only $100,000 
had been raised. Americans felt in 1938 that there were too m .ay 
problems of graver importance at home, and the public attitude fur- 
thermore still nourished hope of neutraiity in world affairs. 

President Roosevelt wrote on April 6, 1938, a letter that stated 
tersely that the Red Cross should try harder to arouse the public, that 
the organization “can raise $ 1 ,000,000 for the Chinese civilian popu- 
lation if [the public] is asked in the right way.” 

The Central Committee bowed to the President's right to direct it, 
and put pressure behind the appeal. This action largely confirmed what 
the Central Committee had feared would be the result Many large city 
chapters refused to join in the campaign. Reports from the field pic- 
tured New England as resenting this “political pre.ssure.” In the Mid- 
west opposition to extension of Red Cross work to the Far East was 
clearly evident. The campaign closed its books with only $800,000. 

Then there was an even greater fiasco when the President and the 
Department of State used the Red Cross as a pawn in Spain. Here the 
civil war that had begun ii. 1936 had caused the U.S. Government, 
for reasons of policy, to embargo all arms shipments from the United 
States to either side. Loyal i.sts or Nat. . nalists. 

In retrospect it is easy to condemn, bur some iusto*'y students still 
resent the manner in w'hich the Red Cross, backed by its loyal millions 
of members as a humanitarian agency, was used in Spain in a political 
effort as a cat's-paw. They hope the backfire ha'; taught politicians a 
permanent lesson. 

The history of the Red Cross to this point, even in the Russian fiasco 
after World War I, was an example of the American feeling that relief 
of suffering knows no politics. Now, under political pressure, the his- 
tory shows from the Spanish records how sorry a mess can be created 
by playing politics with human misery. 

From the time when General Francisco Franco, leading his Moor- 



ish legions but acting in the name of Catholic Spain, precipitated the 
Civil War, the Central Committee of the Red Cross acted precisely 
and properly in line with the traditions of the Red Cross. This action 
was based on clear recognition that Franco’s revolution, closely sup- 
ported by Hitler’s forces and Mussolini’s troops, had European-wide 
implications. It also knew that the Loyalists courted and received open 
support from Communist Russia. 

There were, however, the inevitable cases of innocent civilians 
driven from homes, the aged and children without food or shelter. For 
them the American Red Cross began to prepare such assistance as 
possible through the International Red Cross Committee, but with 
strictly correct statement of fact and sentiment, as these existed in the 
United States. 

Along with a contribution of $10,000 to the International Commit- 
tee for Spanish relief, the American Red Cross sent this message: 
“The whole sentiment of the country is for keeping out of Europe, and 
in official and private circles the feeling is that we should not expose 
ourselves in any way that might involve us.” In other words, the Red 
Cross could never separate itself either from the public feeling upon 
which its whole idea was built or from its government. All of which 
was perfectly correct. 

It was the government alone that made the issue. The White House 
and the State Department soon embargoed all shipments of arms to 
either side, thus invoking a policy of complete neutrality, but then 
attempted to run around its own public policy by sending food sup- 
plies, in the name of humane action, to the Loyalists. In this plan it 
called upon the American Red Cross and the Friends Service Com- 
mittee (Quakers) to make the gesture as a means of showing this 
country’s opposition to Franco. The Red Cross was asked to assume 
responsibility for buying surplus wheat held by the Surplus Commodi- 
ties Corporation (a government agency), milling it into flour, and 
delivering it to the Friends in Spain for distribution among the Loyal- 

The Red Cross did this job, using $75,000 of its own funds and 
lending further amounts to the Friends Service Committee. It well 
knew that while the flour undoubtedly was welcome, and it wished to 
aid refugees, the basic plot was one to give some form of political aid 


the distant roll of drums 

to the Loyalists without the government appearing to do so as an offi- 
cial action. 

The political leadership then asked the Red Cross to launch a drive 
for $300,000 to enlarge this work, making the request right when the 
Chinese relief drive was proving itself to be a fiasco. 

Then the Red Cross really came under lire, particularly from the 
Catholic Church and its American spokesmen who had adopted the 
Franco revolution as a church crusade. The Catholic press lambasted 
the Red Cross. Important Catholic support began to be withdrawn 
from it. The Hearst press interpreted the gesture as a means taken by 
the Administration to circumvent the arms embargo, which it was. 

The many groups who sympathized with the Loyalists, both openly 
sincere and fringe groups inspired by Communist propaganda, took 
the side of the Red Cross until February, 1939, when the State De- 
partment wavered in its own fear of the mounting criticism. It ordered 
that one Red Cross shipment be diverted to the Franco Nationalists. 
Now the lid of criticism of the Red Cross blew boifi ways as vocal 
friends of the Loyalists in the United States took up the cudgels of 
criticism. It was charged that Franco had been sending flour to Ger- 
many and that this American aid only helped him thus to repay Hit- 
ler for his support. 

The total failure of the project as a political gesture, and the dam- 
age done to the Red Cross, were unmistakably demonstrated when, 
in May, 1939, the Spanish Rehef Fund drive, with a goal set at 
$300,000, had to be abandoned with collections of only $50,000. 


But as the war drums sounded nearer in 1940 and 1941, the same 
public that had lost much respect for the Red C ross in 1938 and 1939 
turned again to it, surprising most of aii the Red Cross leadership and 
its principal publicity advisers. 

Here is a historic note of contrast: (1) In 1940, when the Red 
Cross was preparing its annual appeal for public subscriptions, then 
held in the fall, spokesmen for the three major radio networks advised 
it to keep all reference to potential European war relief work out of its 
me.ssages because of public antipathy; (2) Before 1941 ended, with 



direct involvement of the United States in World War II, the United 
States, still at peace remember, had given to the Red Cross such great 
contributions for that very purpose that supplies valued at more than 
$50,000,000 had been poured by the Red Cross alone into Europe and 
a surplus of gifts remained. 

Again the Red Cross had to roll with the punch to adjust itself al- 
most overnight to changing public attitudes. Happily it found itself 
not only supported by the public but no longer at odds with political 
leadership. But it also must be noted that if political feeling had 
changed, the Red Cross itself had accepted i7rave changes in its own 
ideas since World War I. 

The Red Cross remained an agent of relief for distressed peoples, 
but no longer was there any thought that it would or could operate 
outside the general limits of American foreign policy. There was gen- 
eral acceptance of the fact that the word American in its title meant 
just that. The Nazis, the Fascists and the Communists — not the Red 
Cross — ^had changed the old concepts and the old order. 

The status of nations at war had changed. Any thought of sending a 
“Mercy Ship” with token medical assistance to the armies of all bel- 
ligerents, as had been done in 1914, was dead. Armies now marched 
with complete skilled medical attendance for their troops, on the battle- 
fields at least. Furthermore, in totalitarian states there was no way of 
dividing the military and civilian groups. Finally, the time had pas.sed 
forever when the American public would support a program of aid, 
or the Red Cross would sponsor assistance, to countries whose politics 
and actions were anathema to the United States. All this in addition to 
the total disinclination of the United States in 1939 to become in- 
volved in more foreign entanglements. 

The humane considerations underlying the Red Cross idea, that of 
helping all civilians in trouble, seemed incongruous in a period that 
saw saturation bombing of undefended civilians in cities far from the 
battle area and the mobilization of national economies to the degree 
that every civilian actually was a soldier. 

Former President Hoover dissented from this attitude and, as a Red 
Cross vice president, urged a great Red Cross relief program for 
countries overrun by Germany, but he was voted down. Such aid per- 
force would support Germany’s own economy. In September of 1939 
President Roosevelt suggested a similar relief program, as an aid to 


'thB distant DOll OF DRUMS 

the morale of friendly countries. Norman Davis himself replied that 
the country would not support such a campaign. 

As a compromise between good intentions and realities, the Red 
Cross in 1939 allocated $1,000,000 of current funds for potential re- 
lief work and announced it would receive contributions “for relief in 
any of the countries involved.” The response was insignificant. This 
was the period of the “phony war.” 

Some funds were sent through the League of Red Cross Societ :s 
and the International Red Cross Committee lb finance refugee help in 
France and German-occupied Poland, and Finland later was added to 
the list. On June 30, 1940, an aggregate of $2,662,000 had been pro- 
vided by the American Red Cross in funds and supplies for these three 
countries. That was all at the moment, but by then the ruthless Ger- 
man smash-through of May, 1940, had ended the phony war. This de- 
velopment changed almost immediately the character, the woiL and 
the stature of the Red Cross in the public mind. 

When the German conquerors stood on the western shores of Eu- 
rope, from the North Sea to the southernmost poits of France, the 
United States stopped being neutral. The first means at hand for direct 
action was the Red Cross. In work that dilTered only in method it be- 
came again the advance agent of support to future allies as it had in 
1916and 1917. 

Money in this case became the tangible symbol, and the Red Cross 
the agent. The Red Cross made the hard and ruthless decision that 
now, in mid- 1940, it could no longer operate or send relief to any 
country occupied by the aggressors; not even to Poland or Finland. 
The American Red Cross would work only on the side o^' democracy, 
where and as the newly aroused American communiiy wanted it to be. 

What was the result that shocked and surprised even Washington? 

On May 10, the date that Germany launctied its crushing attack 
westward and southward through the Low Countries and France, 
Norman Davis telegraphed the chapteis to launch a $10,000,000 Eu- 
ropean assistance drive. Ten days later the goal was increased to 
$20,000,000. Within eight weeks, a surprising record, the fund was 

In the meantime Congress, always sensitive to public feeling, caught 
the new spirit of public opinion and appropriated $50,000,000, not 
directly to the Red Cross, but for the purchase of supplies to be dis- 



tributed by the Red Cross in accordance with the pattern used in the 

“depression program.” 

Suddenly the Red Cross, so recently broke, criticized and degraded 
by the Chinese and Spanish ventures, held $70,000,000 as trustee for 
relief work among, as the Congressional action stated, “refugee men, 
women and children who have been driven from their homes or other- 
wise rendered destitute by hostilities or invasion.” 

Now the whole operation was as frankly political as a town meeting 
at election time. But politics was accepted as being on the side of the 
angels. Again the Red Cross had become in fact the servant of its mas- 
ter, the American people. 

While aid was withdrawn from the three small countries where it 
had been sent, a vital and more far-reaching decision was made. No 
attempt would be made to send relief supplies into France, Belgium 
or Holland, as much as American sympathy went out to the peoples of 
these countries. 

In total war it had become the established practice for conquering 
armies to send back to their own homes everything that could be 
moved. Supplies sent to Occupied Europe, therefore, would only sup- 
port the German and Italian war machines. 

Instead, the heavy emphasis was laid on relief to England, through 
contributions to the British Red Cross or the Women’s Voluntary 
Services for Civilian Defense. The money went into nurseries for 
bombed-out children, for hot meals in the bomb shelters and medical 
supplies and clothing for general distribution among victims of the 

For a while, when southern France still remained unoccupied, sup- 
plies went to French refugees there, not much but as much as shipping 
could handle; and bits and pieces got to the British Middle East, even 

But soon even the relief program, large as it appeared by compari- 
son with attitudes of such recent memory, became dwarfed in Red 
Cross operations by challenges closer to home. 

Defense preparations, beginning with the draft calls of 1940, began 
also to mobilize the Red Cross again into its traditional wartime role — 
now in greatly modified form but in modern dress even more formi- 
dable, because by now the Red Cross held a recognized monopoly of 
responsibility that had not existed in many fields in 1917. 


distant ROlt OF DRUMS 



In 1940 the Red Cross in effect held a contract with the Army and 
Navy which constituted the anomaly of a vacuum packed with dyna- 
mite. The “vacuum” was clear-cut recognition at last that in event of 
a future war it would be the only organization recognized as the 
agency of communication between civilians and the services; no longer 
would it be linked in cooperative work with the Y.M.C.A. or a :y 
other relief or fraternal organization. In other words, it would — and 
the leadership had been most energetic in getting this monopoly — 
have all the responsibility, and would have to shoulder all of the in- 
evitable criticism. 

In the end, it might be noted, the Red Cross did not have in prac- 
tice the monopoly, but it most assuredly cornered all the criticism. 

But there was the question of what the Red Cross was to do with the 
great prestige prize, in cooperation with the most Hghly developed 
military machine the United States was ever to muster. 

Modern military development, even when it still existed only on 
paper and covered a few scattered forces in 1939, had the highest 
standards of medical and hospital care; so the older .structure of Red 
Cross ambulance units and base ho.spitals had become outmoded. All 
service nurses as well as doctors now were commissioned officers in 
the Army and Navy; the Red Cross still maintained a recruiting roster 
but it neither enlisted nor supported nurses or doctois. Industrial pro 
duction planned for military use was so vastly increased over the 1918 
level that there seemed no possibility of any future need for 800,000 
women industriously knitting, sewing and making bandages. Even 
recreation in ambitious scope figured in the military plan.s — on paper. 

Faced with this changing world, the Red Cross as early as 1934 had 
set up a committee to study how it could be of service in case of an- 
other war. As late as the half of 1940 this planning group fore- 
saw only a very limited Red Cross role, primarily Home Service and 
Hospital Service, and possibly the procurement of some “comfort” 
supplies for camps and hospitals to assist the work of the Field Direc- 
tors who would be assigned to them. 

In the atmosphere of popular thought as it existed in the 1930s, it 
was impossible for the Red Cross to make any public display, either 



nationally or through the chapters, of preparations for emergency 
activities. Consequently, there could not be any of the publicity that 
would help to build up financial reserves. 

In fact, while the Red Cross continued through 1941 to collect great 
sums for its operations overseas — great compared with its poverty 
domestic budget — it was running badly in the red, eating up its re- 
serves, in order to do quietly those things that needed to be done in 
the United States. In 1940 there were reports that Chairman Davis 
was considering abolition of services to veterans of the 1917—18 war 
as an economy measure. 

The fall of France changed all of this cautious attitude, but not im- 
mediately. Furthermore, France fell after the fund campaign had been 
set in 1940, leaving the Red Cross on the ragged edge of means when 
mobilization of the large Army was begun late in 1940, and yet un- 
able at the time to make a special funds drive. 

Remember that the Selective Training and Service Act was passed 
in September, 1940. Under its operation, the armed forces expanded 
in 1941 alone from 425,000 to 2,000,000 men. And now the Civil 
Defense program, on which secret planning had been started in 1939, 
became an active operation, with Red Cross participation running into 
fantastic commitments — training of 100,000 nurses’ aides, training of 
nutrition aides and a first-aid program designed to reach 5 per cent of 
all persons in municipal governments, industrial establishments and 
large business corporations. 

Here was work for the chapters, but a pressing financial load for the 
Red Cross. As 200 training camps were set up for the new civilian 
army, field staffs were assigned to each, to repeat the services per- 
formed in World War I. Recreation programs for military camps be- 
came a major demand on chapters adjacent to them. Finally, the Army 
admitted that it could not obtain from industrial producers more than 
10 per cent of the surgical bandages called for in planning estimates. 
In one swoop, the Red Cross agreed to produce 40,000,000 dressings. 

The chapters responded as always when the Red Cross has had a 
genuine job thrust upon it. The 3,700 chapters — now all alive and ac- 
tive — mustered some 2,000,000 volunteer workers in their programs. 

The public, too, was beginning to show again that it realized the 
value of the Red Cross. Despite the fact that even the 1940-41 mein- 

the distant roll of drums 


bers-and-funds campaign had to be conducted “under wraps,” the 
subscribing members totaled more than 9,190,000 persons, or almost 
twice the enrollment of only two years earlier. The Red Cross went 
into its new operating year with a potential deficit of $2,500,000 after 
allocation of all the surplus in the General Fund as well as all receipts 
from contributors in this drive. 

Then a new worry related to money did, for the first time, in- 
volving the relationship of the Red Cross to other welfare agencies. 

In this work the writer has no intention of delving into the pros and 
cons of various types of fund-raising, but this citation represents a 
milestone in the development of the Red Cross — it is the evidence of 
the stature of the organization, and of the people who had come to 
believe in it despite the lassitude and occasional political problems 
that so threatened its development in the years between the world 

In 1941 not everyone was blind to the possibility of involvement 
by the United States in war. The Red Cross chairman, Norman Davis, 
who had had probably mere experience than any other individual in 
leading American delegations to “peace conferences,” read the fore- 
boding signs. In March, 1941, a special staff committee was created 
to consider plans either for a national defense campaign or a war 
fund campaign. 

Working also in secret, lest the operation either create fears in the 
public mind or, worse, lead cnarges by others that the Red Cross 
was warmongering, the Red Cross established a National Advisory 
Committee as a stand-by agency. 

Advising from the background of his distinguished Rea Cross serv- 
ice twenty years earlier was Eliot Wadsworth. Now, other and newer 
faces fitted into the more active role.s, but with close echoes to 19l7. 
Thomas W. Lamont accepted the chairmans.hip of the National Ad- 
visory Committee, which closely paw '.^-led the older War Council; 
Lamont had grown up to a partnership in J. P. Morgan & Co., the 
same firm that had loaned Henry Davison to the Red Cross. S. Sloan 
Colt, president of the Bankers Trust Company, accepted the vice 

Working with this “outside” committee on plans was a War Fund 
Campaign Committee, consisting of professionals on the Red Cross 



Staff. As planning progressed the two committees ran into differences 
of opinion regarding the best method of seeking the larger contribu- 
tions that the Red Cross already was needing bad/y. Mr. Lamont 
recommended that the Red Cross stage, if war came, an immediate 
appeal for $25,000,000 as a special supporting fund. The internal 
staff thought such a campaign impractical and leaned toward the 
opinion that the Red Cross should put all of its effort into a greatly 
broadened regular annual appeal. 

Meanwhile, outside of Red Cross circles there was a growing move- 
ment among community chests for planning one “wartime campaign” 
in which the public would be asked to make one smashing contri- 
bution that would support all welfare activities “for the duration.” 
This position was understandable on the part of the local organiza- 
tions. In time of war, when the public is inclined to give overwhelming 
support to national welfare organizations, it ceases to regard in the 
same light the smaller units. 

Now, the Red Cross leadership felt that the movement by the com- 
munity chests represented only another tack in their longtime effort 
to unite local appeals with the national ones by big organizations, a 
position most strongly opposed up to then by the Red Cross. 

The debate became so bitter and the positions so irreconcilable that 
the issue was referred directly to President Roosevelt. On June b, 
1941, he made a statement that has stood ever since as a forceful ex- 
tension of the Red Cross charter; 

The American Red Cross occupies a unique place as a popu- 
larly supported yet semi-government agency, acting in accord- 
ance with the Treaty of Geneva and under a charter from the 
Congress. Its services to the armed forces, its responsibilities in 
time of disaster and its foreign relief icquire that it act promptly 
and fully in time of emergency. It must continue to be the agent 
of the popular will and the reliance of the government. It must 
have mobility and freedom of action. . . . 

I, therefore, heartily endorse the action of the Central Com- 
mittee of the Red Cross in maintaining freedom to conduct a 
Roll Call for its annual membership and freedom to launch a 
campaign for funds to meet needs in disaster and in time of na- 
tional emergency. 


the distant rou of drums 

Freedom of action was established for the Red Cross beyond chal- 
lenge. Chairman Davis decided to adopt the plan of the staff com- 
mittee for the 1941 campaign, rather than to ask the public for a 
special fund. The Red Cross hoped for, but did not ask for, the sum 
of $25,000,000. 

It raised somewhat less, but its membership did balloon to the point 
of 15,000,000. 

+ + + + + 

1941-45— The Deluge 

Un the evening of December 7, 1941, the busiest spot in the 
United States was the closely guarded White House in Washington. 
Yet one of the callers admitted that evening to a personal conference 
with the President was Norman Davis, chairman of the Red Cross. 

Pearl Harbor had put the American Red Cross again into the per- 
spective of its great original conception, although evolution had 
ironically robbed it of the opportunity or need to fill the role on the 
battlefields for which it had been founded exactly sixty years earlier. 

While Davis talked with the President, coded cables brought im- 
mediate word of Red Cross activities on the job where war had first 

From Honolulu — In the blackout of the first tense night after the 
bombings a temporary Red Cross canteen served cofiee and sand- 
wiches to civilian defense workers. During the night a canteen with 
larger facilities, manned by voluniec''S on twelve-hour shifts, began 
operating in the basement of lolani Palace. From there Motor Corps 
volunteers went out with meals to radio and telephone operators, and 
other persons who could not leave vital posts. There were forty Red 
Cross women driving through tlie blacked-out and wreckage-strewn 
area. Three thousand w'omen and children were evacuated from 
ruined areas on that first night, with the last one bedded down else- 
where at 3:00 a.m. Surgical dressings and blood plasma from Red 




Cross stores were sent in a constant stream of deliveries to hospitals 
where the terrible toll of wounded was taken. (Who wondered now 
about the fears of a year earlier as to whether the Red Cross would 
have a job to do in the event of war?) 

From Manila, where the Philippine Red Cross then was a branch 
of the American Red Cross, leadership was taken in the evacuation 
of 80,000 persons from Manila. Ten emergency hospitals manned by 
volunteer doctors and nurses were established. When the Army ex- 
hausted a “six-months’ supply” of surgical dressings in two days, the 
Red Cross provided what was needed. When ihc Japanese landed and 
General Douglas MacArthur moved the main American forces to 
Bataan, he asked the Philippine Red Cross, its members already 
doomed to eventual abandonment altogether, to find means to send 
away his wounded left in a hospital in Manila. On December 3 1 , just 
three days before Manila fell, the little Red Cross ship Mactan, an 
inter-island steamer, got under way with 224 Army casualties from 
that hospital to miraculously reach Sydney, Australia, four weeks 
later. By that time the Philippine Red Cross existed only in name as 
the Japanese invaders burned, pillaged and smashed their way through 
the Philippines. 

Yet despite that background, inexplicable as it seems at this writing, 
the American Red Cross felt even after Pearl Harbor that perhaps its 
place, its responsibilities, and above all public understanding of its 
role, were limited. 

The Red Cross that had boldly raised more than $100,000,000 in 
its first fund campaign after the outbreak of World War I, when all 
hostilities were more than 3,000 miles removed from American lives 
or property, now was enmeshed in an attitude of fearful conservatism. 
Seeing its role as small, primarily that of messenger boy between the 
troops and civilians, it seemed to lose for a moment the grand concep- 
tion of its being. 

On December 12, 1941, with the usual endorsing announcement 
by the President of the United States, the Red Cross asked the public 
to contribute $50,000,000 to a war-service fund. It asked for a war 
that directly involved the United States in blood from its start only 
half the sum it asked in 1917, for a smaller war involving a much 
smaller and less opulent country. 

The $50,000,000 was presumed sufficient to carry the Red Cross 



through its first year of war. A group of banking advisers had decided 
that “the general economic and tax situation” had dulled the public 
response to Red Cross appeals; that the public would feel that the 
government which collected the swollen taxes ought to take over. 
James K. McClintock, vice president in charge of finances, backed by 
Norman Davis but openly criticized by some of the professional staff 
of the Red Cross, had said before Pearl Harbor; 

“We should ‘throw out the window’ any idea that the Red Cros jan 
raise three hundred or four hundred million dollars ... we should 
go out for fifty million dollars and be smart enough to make it do for 
our program.” 

Despite this lukewarm approach, refiected alike in national plan- 
ning and in the chapters, the goal was exceeded. 

Goals were progressively raised as the job given to the Red Cross 
expanded into a woild-widc support welcomed by the aruieJ forces, 
but hesitancy marked the whole series of campaigns. These were for 
$125,000,000 in 1943, and $200,000,000 each in 1944 and 1945. 
Every goal was oversubscribed: in the. four years of the war the Red was given by the American people a total of $666,510,000, 
Afterward much was made, publicity-wise, of this total constituting 
‘"the greatest free-will offering in history.” The public gave all that was 
asked, and considerably more. And in 1945. membership, represent- 
ing all individuals who gave one dollar or more, totaled 36,645,000, 
or more than one-fourth of the total population of the country. What 
this meant w'us graphically stated in a report made late in 1945: 

No other single cause save ti at of the country itself has re- 
ceived contributions that approach such magiiitude. The mem- 
bership is greater than the votes cast by either of our political 
parties in the 1 944 Pre.'idential election or than the membership 
of any of our great religious faiths. In ai'.dition [the Red Cross] 
has some 19.900,000 junior me” bers. Its 3,757 chapters and 
5,785 branches reach into every hamlet and into the nooks and 
crannies of the most rural, desert or mountainous countries. 

Then why this conservatism? 

In retrospect, the answer is simple, and has been restated by a 
re-formed Red Cross itself many times. Actually, in World War II the 
structure of the Red Cross, from National Headquarters through 


the deluge 

the dominant chapters, was out-of-date. It rested on the assumption 
that social position and wealth were the criteria of leadership. The 
public — including the now great labor unions, the groups of middle- 
income families in communities, the masses making up the hard sub- 
stance of the United States — had for the most part no voice or oppor- 
tunity for leadership in the Red Cross. 

By the time World War II started, the Red Cross actually was at the 
breaking point with organized labor, and community chests considered 
the Red Cross a predatory competitor for the public’s gifts. In the 
midst of the war the Red Cross had to reach agreements equivalent 
to treaties with organized labor to head off competing war-service fund 
drives by the latter, and President Roosevelt had to intervene again 
in the Red Cross-community chest controversy by issuing an order 
(as president of the Red Cross) forbidding the Red Cross to partici- 
pate in joint fund-raising campaigns. 

The World War II job of the Red Cross, as even its severest critics 
concur, was done well and conscientiously. But it was done by a 
leadership so boxed in by precedent and circumstances that, while 
doing its job overseas and at the chapter level, it also had to fight a 
defensive action. 

In the meantime, the leadership remained vested in the traditional 
groups of volunteers, whose job was made harder by tradition. Suc- 
cessive fund chairmen after Colt were Walter S. Gifford, Leon Fraser 
and Colby M. Chester. Harvey D. Gibson, who had been general 
manager and Commissioner to France in World War I, returned to 
Great Britain as Commissioner, from where he supervised all Red 
Cross operations in the European Theater. 

Organizational training within the ranks of the Red Cross staff now 
paid off, as James L. Fieser was made vice chairman at large, the 
senior post then open to professional staff, and new vice chairmen 
were created for Junior Red Cross and Personnel Relations, Areas 
Offices and Chapter Service, Public Relations and other domestic 

As unassigned volunteers, there came back actively into the picture 
Eliot Wadsworth and Cornelius N. Bliss, along with new and promi- 
nent faces such as George L. Harrison and Lloyd B. Wilson, Landon 
K. Thorne and Nelson Dean Jay. 

On the fringes of the Red Cross, however, there came a new face, 


the deluge 

of the same social breed and very wealthy, but in an extraordinary job. 
This man was manager of the North Atlantic Area, where he worked 
through the war exactly as a staff executive with the sole difference 
that he received no pay check. He battled with fund-raising and pro- 
curement problems, and negotiated for endless hours with the leaders 
of groups excluded fron. Red leadership. He learned a lot. 

The individual was E. Roland Harriman, brother of Avcrell Harri- 
man, wartime ambassador and future governor of New York. Roland 
Harriman wa.s preparing for a unique place in Red Cross history. He 
had inherited his mother's great interest in the Red Cross, and now 
he would lead the Red Cross into a new concept of itself and re- 
organization to fit its place in modern American life. 


Each progressive stage of World War II found the role of the Red 
Cross expanding far beyond any contemplation of it in prewar plan- 
ning. Before the war was ended it was neck-deep in new ventures 
never even dreamed of prior to the outbreak of hostilities. 

The work of the Red Cross Ihrougliout these foui years seems, in 
the perspective of time, to have been overglainorizcd, exaggerated 
and misunderstood — sometimes maliciously criticized. But nothing can 
detract from the facts that it was good, it was necessary, and its re- 
sponse to need went far b onJ any duty or obligation. There might 
be wrangles over policy, but there was no hesitation in “doing those 
things w’hich ought to be done " an ’ as much more as w'as requested 
by the military. 

While the role of the Red Cross at the start of the w'ar lacked the 
headline-making features of establishment of base hospitals and ship- 
ment of great numbers of medical persoTincl and canteen workers 
overseas, otherwise it must have look''d to the middle-aged volunteers 
like a duplication of 1917—1 8. 

Hospital Service and Home Service and Field Service, manned in 
many cases by persons entering their second war operation, sprang 
to life. In each case the demands far exceeded expectations of any 
advance planning. And chapters found themselves again immersed in 
the old tasks. Very few were out of striking distance of expanding 
camps or hospitals. The old need for bandages patiently rolled and 



trimmed by hand arose again. To these activities were now added two 
others that had hardly existed at all in the short and victorious march 
of the troops overseas in 1 9 1 8. 

One was Blood Service. The others were the heart-rending and 
questioning one called Prisoners of War and Next-of-Kin Service. 

In World War I there had been no Blood Service, or even a defini- 
tion of the term. In World War I there had been no American pris- 
oners of war in this new sense of the word. In fact, only aged persons 
with recollections of the Civil War could recall a time when many 
thousands of Americans had been in military stockades or prisons 
such as Andersonville. 

But this war started with prisoners, from the day that Bataan fell, 
and — owing to fortunate pilot operations prior to Pearl Harbor — it 
started with the Blood Service, which cut the loss of life from wounds 
and shock imjncasurably compared with that of previous wars. 

As the war progressed, there were added to these activities Club and 
Canteen Services overseas, plus wide extension of financial assistance 
to servicemen and their families. Yes, the Red Cross became busy 
beyond its prewar imagination. But before broadening out the picture, 
let’s take a quick look at the one unique development of this war’s 
experience — Blood. 


One statistic highlights the Blood story; In World War II the Ameri- 
can Red collected from 6,660,000 American volunteers 13,- 

300.000 pints of blood for the armed services. Later it collected 

961.000 units for the military during the Korean War, and millions of 
donations have been collected during that period and since for civilians. 
But such capabilities did not happen overnight. 

Back in 1929, it is recorded, the Birmingham, Alabama, chapter 
suggested as a Red Cross activity the establishment of a transfusion 
service. The idea came to life in a pilot program in 1 937 in Augusta, 
Georgia, when that chapter recruited individuals for referral to the 
University of Georgia Hospital, where they were typed and registered. 
A dozen other chapters imitated this lead. 

In 1940, there started in New York, a “Plasma for Britain” project 
— ^the extraction of plasma from whole blood having become by then 
an established practice. Plasma did not do the job as well as transfu- 

the deluoe 


sions of real blood, but it was far better than none at all, particularly 
in alleviating shock during the hours that might elapse between injuries 
or wounds and removal of patients to proper hospitals. The New York 
Chapter worked with the Blood Transfusion Betterment Association 
on this pilot project, and a few other chapters followed suit. 

Before the end of 1940 the Red Cross approved in principle the 
establishment of a Red Cross Medical Health and Advisory Committee, 
and in January of 1941 accepted an invitation by the Army and Navy 
to go ahead with organization of Blood-Donor Services. 

The fantastic build-up, and the public response to the blood program, 
is a shining beacon in American history. To say it mushroomed is an 
understatement. It is a record of fact that never was the Red Cross, 
as collecting agent from volunteers, short in meeting requests from the 
armed forces. 

During World War II, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower 
was moved to say: “If I could reach all America, there is one thing 
I would like to do — thank them for blood plasma and for whole blood. 
It has been a tremendous thing.” 

While the American people deserve the credit for contributing the 
blood, the Red Cross alone can claim credit for the organization and 
distribution — establishment of a whole new “industry” involving every 
phase of handling a commodity so perishable that perfect refrigeration 
in handling, transit and storage is imperative. National Headquarters 
organized and paid principally for the project out of its funds, but the 
chapters did the work. 

Speaking of costs, the entire Red Cross expense for World War II 
blood was $ 15,870,000. Here again was the story of the volunteer pro- 
viding mass help for work under the direction of and alongside the 
skilled professional. 

Thirty-five of the largest Red Cross chapters became Army-Navy 
Blood Donor Centers with laboratories and facilities complete for all 
types of blood procurement and handling. From these radiated at the 
peak of operations 63 mobile units — self-contained collection centers 
on specially built trucks, manned by doctors, nurses and technicians — 
that made visits by pre-arrangement to smaller chapters, some 2,200 
of them. 

The blood program involved a paid staff of 2,285 doctors, nurses and 
technicians, and with them worked an estimated 25,000 volunteers 



when the program hit its full stride. There is no estimate of the time 
or money represented by cooperating groups, some 20,000 business 
firms and labor, religious, civic and other organizations who rounded 
up donors, provided space and facilities for blood-collection centers, 
and all the other details of such a cooperative movement. 

What did this program mean at the other ends of the lines — the 
countless ends as fighting fanned out over the world? The answers 
are graphic; here are a few samples: 

From a Navy surgeon’s report from the Pacific: “Six thousand units 
of plasma went ashore at Tarawa, and 4,000 of them came back in 
the veins of wounded Marines. At least half of the seriously wounded 
owe their lives to plasma.” 

Report by the Surgeon General of the Navy: “Only one per cent 
of the Navy personnel wounded in the Pacific died, thanks in large 
part to plasma.” (Author’s note: In World War I approximately 5 
per cent of the wounded died. ) 

Report by the Surgeon General of the Army: “Plasma ranked first 
as the foremost life-saver used by the Army Medical Corps in North 

Down in New Guinea, one of the remotest war areas, the Army 
forces involved finally named a hard-contested hill “Plasma Ridge.” 
And as one added note, when the invasion of Normandy finally oc- 
curred, plasma was dropped by parachute to evacuation hospitals on 
that bloody shore. 

With galloping swiftness, scientific research developed in the blood 
field under the pressure of war. From liquid plasma came development 
of dried plasma that could be shipped more easily and swiftly and to 
more outlying stations. By the end of the war whole blood was being 
delivered and used for transfusions within the critical period of two 
weeks during which it could be preserved. 

Equally important as the war usage was the foundation laid for sub- 
sequent peacetime development, both technologically and scientifically 
— ^the unlocking of the secrets of fibrinogen and other by-products 
that are writing their own chapters in other histories of great de- 

To keep this record free from charges of withholding of recorded 
information, it must be noted that one controversy that gravely shook 
the Red Cross arose over the “color line” in blood. By public demand. 



as registered with the military, blood was labeled as to race of the 
donor so that, to put it nicely, a recipient might receive blood from a 
member of his own race. 

This caused a furious outcry by Negro leaders, who cited unani- 
mous opinions among experts that there is no racial difference in 

Chairman Davis finally had to issue public statements to the effect 
that the Red Cross was following its mandate from the Army and 
Navy, that it was not the responsibility of the Red Cross “to try to 
settle racial controversies.” 

In retrospect it appears that the Red Cross could have taken no 
other course. 


Now to turn to Prisoners of War, in a brief description that cannot 
hope either to portray their plight or the gigantic efforts made to 
assist them, but only hint at it. 

In this description it is recognized that time has healed most of the 
scars of war, but this cannot be used as an excuse to gloss over the 
dow'nright savagery to which many American prisoners of war were 
exposed, particularly the thousands who fell into the hands of the 

Considering the other factors involved, the record indicates that 
prisoners in the hands of the Germans fared on the average as well 
as could be expected in a bitterly contested war; those in the hands 
of the Japanese were treated in a manner that always will be incom- 
prehensible to the Western mind. 

The Japanese cared nothing about their own men who were cap- 
tured; they bothered as little about their own prisoners, seemed in fact 
intent on accentuating conditions that would obliterate them. And yet 
some few supplies for prisoners did get through to Japanese corrals. 
In this picture there is no definite blaek or white. In summary, none 
of the 115,000 American servicemen who fell alive into the enemy’s 
hands had a very happy experience. 

Treatment of prisoners of war has been a major provision of the 
Geneva Convention since its inception, with occasional attempts to 
modernize practices in the light of a presumed increase in general 
civilized practices. On paper the progressive program had looked good. 



One Convention framed in 1 899 was accepted by forty-three nations; 
the exceptions among major powers being Russia, which did not sign 
it at all, and Japan, which refused to ratify it. The Japanese govern- 
ment was equally disinterested in a modernization of this Convention 
in 1929. But in World War II, everything possible had to be tried. 

In general the Convention regarding prisoners of war is an agree- 
ment that prisoners shall be humanely treated and properly housed and 
fed, that officers shall not be required to do manual labor, that neutral 
observers may observe and report on camp conditions and list pris- 
oners, and that certain designated supplies may be forwarded to pris- 
oners on both sides. 

In all of this work the International Red Cross Committee is 
designated as the operating agency. Supplies for prisoners are the 
responsibility of their governments, but the various national Red Cross 
Societies do the collecting and forwarding. The same channels serve 
families of prisoners who may send, under the Convention, certain 
personal comforts in limited quantities. In World War II, total sup- 
plies valued at $168,000,000 went to our prisoners (nearly 200,000 
tons). But of this great quantity only $3,000,000 worth could be sent 
to American prisoners in Japan. 

The job of the American Red Cross was one of organization, col- 
lection and delivery, and finally the setting up of a production line 
for supply cartons in Philadelphia. But even so the cost to Red Cross 
contributors, representing fringe expense, approximated $6,000,000. 

Here is a thumbnail sketch of what was done; 

Operational and directing headquarters for the vast prisoner-of-war 
network, which included a total of 1,300,000 Allied prisoners of war, 
was at Geneva. This committee acted primarily as agent for two coun- 
tries: Great Britain, which attempted to maintain its own prisoners 
as the United States was later to do; and this country. As we became 
involved in the war, America also sent great quantities of food to 
French, Yugoslavian, Belgian and Polish prisoners in Germany. 

The basic food package for a prisoner in Europe was a little box 
10 inches square and 4V6 inches deep, complying with German postal 
regulations. Its weight could not exceed eleven pounds. These boxes 
were packed with supplies intended to supplement prison diets — a fair 
sample containing raisins, liver pate, soluble coffee, corned beef, sugar, 
dried milk, oleomargarine, biscuits, orange concentrate, cheese, canned 



salmon or tuna fish, chocolate bars, cigarettes and soap. 

Various supplements could be sent by the Red Cross, including 
special invalid foods for sick or wounded men, medicine kits planned 
to meet the needs of men in groups of 100 for one month, vitamin 
pills, toilet articles and clothing. Clothes, toilet articles and comfort 
kits might occasionally be sent by relatives of the prisoners through 
the Red Cross. 

Here was a problem of business organization and nationwide com- 
munication rather than welfare work. It tested the efficiency of the 
business management of the Red Cross. After a period in which the 
parcels of food were purchased from manufacturers, the Red Cross 
set up assembly plants, the first one in Philadelphia, where packing 
was done by volunteers. 

In the meantime, vessels eventually totaling nine were purchased 
or chartered in the name of the International Red Cross Committee 
to ship the great quantities of materials. 

It is a pleasant footnote to the war recotil that not one of these 
ships — sailing under full lights in blacked-oul oceans and radioing 
their positions constantly — was ever deliberately attacked by the 
enemy in the course of 127 crossings of the Atlantic. Three were 
struck accidentally in aerial bombings in the Mediterranean, one being 

Early in the war, prisoner-of-war supplies for Europe were unloaded 
in Lisbon, Portugal, and sent by rail to Geneva, Switzerland, from 
which point they entered Germany in truck convoys under the Red 
Cross flag. When European transport became clogged in 1944, ar- 
rangements were made for the supply ships to unload at Goteborg, 
Sweden, whence they were ferried behind German mine sweepers to 
Liibeck, Germany. 

After the surrender of Germany, convoys of supplies were rushed 
across the borders from every direction, but up until then the move- 
ments were closely restricted. 

The International Red Cross, fortunately operating from the neu- 
tral ground of Switzerland, mustered a small army of its own to do 
the prisoner-of-war job, a total of about 5,000 persons, mostly volun- 
teers from neutral nations. These ranged from neutral bankers and 
businessmen in the occupied countries, who acted as inspectors of 
camps, to truck drivers and warehousemen, operators of a complex 

240 the deluge 

communications network and — as Germany began to fall apart — vir- 
tually a law-and-cwder brigade. 

Strangely enough, in the light of past hates and fears engendered 
by the Nazi nightmare, the postwar roundup of prisoner reports gave 
the Germans a passable if poor reputation in general. Prisoners of war, 
except in isolated instances of human sadism, were treated as persons 
rather than animals by the Germans. There was no comparison be- 
tween the manner in which the German Army treated its wards and 
that in which the Hitler legions treated their own fellow citizens in con- 
centration camps. 

True, food rations to prisoners were short, normally down to the 
1,500 calories a day necessary as a minimum for health. Often as 
relief packages arrived the rations were cut proportionately. But that 
might be considered as normal, as well as the overcrowding and dis- 
organization that came in the later months of the war. 

On the better side, the International Red Cross was enabled by the 
German Army to collect and dispatch much accurate information 
about American prisoners, the state of their health, and other news, 
and to keep its files and those of our own government up-to-date as 
to the location of each, within the limits of human possibility. The 
food package or comfort article consigned to Private Smith, a prisoner, 
was delivered in most cases to Private Smith precisely where he was 

True, the American prisoners captured in Europe were subjected to 
hardship, but those taken by the Japanese from the Philippines, from 
units that from time to time were lost in the Pacific, and the mounting 
hundreds of fliers who in an attacking war must, in forced landings, 
go into the hands of the enemy — those were in hell. 

The Japanese refused even to name the location of many of their 
prison camps, scattered as they were through southeastern Asia, the 
Philippines, Java, Thailand and Burma. The Swiss Legation in Tokyo, 
acting for the Red Cross, was able to locate some of the camps in 
Japan, but very few. No neutral observers were allowed to see most 
of the compounds. 

Repeatedly the International Red Cross negotiated to get supplies 
through to the prisoners, and even to learn who and where they were. 
A few supplies did get through, but so pitifully few. As one example, 
there is the report from a Red Cross worker in the Philippines, taken 


the deluge 

after the fall of Bataan and afterward transferred to a civilian intern- 
ment camp at Santo Tomas. 

After almost two years of detention, the group at Santo Tomas 
received a shipment of food parcels, enough to provide four for each 
person. These were the first and last ever received there. The prisoners 
were receiving from the Japanese about one-fourth the minimum diet 
required to sustain life. They organized their parcels, which included 
food, small quantities of medicine and blood plasma, to la : them for 
a year. Under such discipline they survived, to report: “We rationed 
out the supplies to last us a year and without that small supplement 
to our diet, many would have died of starvation or malnutiuion. . . . 
In many cases we administered the blood plasma as a substitute for 


The single word Recreation chalked up in thii Red Cross responsibili- 
ties for the armed forces in World War II turned into the biggest 
project in the history of the Red Cross. Hardly noted in preliminary 
planning prior to 1941, and its World War I pattern apparently super- 
seded by the development of the Army’s Special Services organization, 
it became a bogey and finally a Red Cross triumph. But here again, 
because of lack of imagination somewhere, all had to be leaincd the 
hard way. 

Or can plans be made for sudden transformation of what is basi- 
cally a welfare organization irto a staff of hotelkeepers, restaurateurs, 
club operators and crews running hundreds of mobile restaurants? 
The old saying, “You never know till you try,” held good here a 
thousand times over in the experience of 5,000 amateurs — the Red 
Cross overseas staff. ITiey tried, and they did. 

Recreation work meant as many different types of activities as mere 
were theaters of operation. These were as different as locales where the 
war was fought. Their facilities ran the gamut of the types and places 
where Americans served the world over. 

The Rainbow Comer Club in London served as many as 60,000 
meals in twenty-four hours to GIs on leave, and its quarters featured 
every facility of a fine hotel. But it was no more appreciated, or im- 
portant to the individual GI, than a tent pitched on Guadalcanal and 



furnished principally with a phonograph and a couple of writing ta- 
bles. Or the station wagon converted into a creaky clubmobile that 
wheeled out into the desert to serve 3,000 doughnuts and hot coffee 
(accompanied by the smiles of American girls) to 1,500 sun-black- 
ened and beaten men being hauled in a crowded French freight train 
away from the debacle of Kasserine Pass. 

The “marching orders” for the Red Cross Recreational Services 
were fairly simple. Wherever the Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force 
operated, the Red Cross was expected to be. And that included club- 
mobiles on the Stilwell Road linking India and China, remote desert 
outposts and jungle islands. It included likewise hopping of the Medi- 
terranean for the invasion of Italy and monumental work in following 
the liberating forces to Europe. 

At home, operated by the chapters, it meant clubs, “day rooms,” 
snack bars and all the recreation facilities that could be devised for 
troops in transit, and everywhere “on-post” clubs and “off-post” clubs 
in leave areas — all the way from Hawaii around the Southern Hemi- 
sphere through Australia to Egypt. It meant also the eventual opera- 
tion of a siring of motion-picture projectors, completely supplied 
with films for regular program changes, for a combined audience of 
more than 1,000,000 men a month. 

As always, it meant in addition almost incalculable supplies of ciga- 
rettes, magazines, writing paper, sheets and towels, and furnishings and 

And it was not all rest area work, either. At Two Jima, the blood- 
bath volcanic island where 20,000 Americans were casualties in 
twenty-six days of fighting, a field director was with them; and eighty- 
nine Red Cross personnel landed on bloody Okinawa. 

At no place was fighting so severe, either, that the home problems 
of the soldiers could be forgotten or put aside by field directors for 
another time. Family complications, financial problems and the va- 
garies of life follow men even into combat. So while the new “busi- 
ness” of recreation grew and grew like Topsy, the older business of 
military welfare service made ever increasing demands as the forces 
overseas grew. 

One thing about its role the Red Cross particularly grew to dread. 
This was the always recurring requests by soldiers for emergency home 
leave because of some real or fancied — and in a few instances fabri- 

the deluge 


cated — crisis. It was written earlier how the Military Service and 
Home Service of the Red Cross worked from field director to home 
chapter to investigate and report back on such cases; not to recom- 
mend military action but to report the facts. This created in the end 
unfavorable public relations that the Red Cross never has been able 
to explain away. 

One American who was a company officer first in China and then 
in Korea frankly described how the system worked from the Army 
standpoint as he saw and practiced it. 

“When there was a favorable report and a man was getting what 
he wanted,” he said, “I’d call him in and say, ‘We’re mighty glad t- do 
this for you, old man.’ But when wc got the report that he was ex- 
aggerating or lying and that command upstairs had refused leave re- 
quest, we’d say, ‘Too bad, the Red Cross says you don’t rate it.’ It 
worked swell for us both ways.” 

To sum it up, in this overseas activity that ^nonplused Headquarters 
at home, and which amounted to a world-wide American Red Cross 
before the firing ceased in 1945, there came into being 1,800 recrea- 
tional facilities overseas staffed by 5,000 Red Cross paid workers and 
about 1 40,000 volunteers. They operated more than 500 on-post cIu'ds 
and 400 in leave areas. One group operated 75 rest homes for combat 
fliers alone. 

Others served a peak of 190 snack bars and canteens ai remote air 
strips, and teams of girls wheeled 300 mobile canteens into areas 
where military vehicles were the only other wheeled machines operat- 
ing over the first highways ever seen by the natives. 


Who were the persons doing <^hese things? The civilian men in green 
uniforms with Red Cross insignia that gave identity but no authority, 
and the Red Cross “girls” whose recognition too often in after years 
has consisted of sly jokes about their presumed conduct or imputations 
of snobbery. 

It might be noted that in both the big wars and in Korea, they were 
individuals who did not have to be there. This is obviously true of the 
woman whose assignment might be one of the big plush clubs but more 



likely was a remote snack bar in the desert or on a jungle island. But 
it is equally true of the male field directors and their assistants. 

The Red Cross policy is that this service must never be a shield for 
the slacker or the young man seeking sheltered duty. Such younger 
men as wore the Red Cross uniform — the same younger men who 
landed with troops at Iwo Jima (where one found a welcome box of 
ocarinas in his supplies), on Cape Gloucester, on Normandy Beach 
and a hundred other places — might well have held in good conscience 
civilian jobs back home. The older and slightly paunchy men who 
made up the bulk of the male Red Cross personnel were capable of 
passing a rather strict physical examination, but as often as not they 
already had long since passed the draft age, and their contemporaries 
in military uniform were securely kept out of harm’s reach by military 

The Red Cross “girls” were women, not children, perhaps mostly 
anxious for adventure, but willing to take what went with it — all 
pledged to go where they were sent — and they were sent literally 
everywhere. This included even “over the Hump” into China, where 
one unit of three women with club equipment including a piano was 
sent in response to General Stilwell’s urgent request for recreational 
assistance for his hard-pressed men at Chungking. 

When the Stilwell Road was finally opened, eight clubmobiles plied 
its length, setting a record in one day by serving 15,000 snacks to the 
men there. 

All little things, yes, but in the aggregate such big things. 

Let the record also show what so often is forgotten or overlooked. 
Neither the American Red Cross as an organization nor the individuals 
in it decided where clubs or clubmobiles or recreation centers should 
be placed, or whether these should be exclusively for officers, or mixed 
clubs used by officers and men alike. The military authorities requested 
each facility and designated its type. From 1942 onward, the Red 
Cross had to sprint to keep up with requests; never was it in the 
position of trying to advance its own position. 

And it was the military authority, not the Red Cross, that decreed 
two regulations that have been among the hardest things the Red Cross 
has had to try to live down since World War II. 

One involves money and the other involves the “girls.” 

As for the money criticism, apparently the report will never die that 

the deluoe 


the Red Cross sold things” — coffee, doughnuts, cigarettes — that had 
been purchased with funds contributed at home in order that these 
might be distributed free to the troops overseas. There were cases 
where the Red Cross did, and here is the reason why: 

Soon after American forces began arriving in largf* numbers in the 
British Isles, military officers reported that relations with the forces of 
our Allies — both the British and those from occupied countries who 
had reached Britain and were enrolled in foreign freedom armies — 
were badly hurt by the great disparity between the pay and benefits 
of Americans and those of other countries. 

One recommendation was that the Red Cross be required to charge 
token prices for food and tobacco served at canteens. The recommen- 
dation became a military order. Thereafter, under orders from the 
government the Red Cross did charge for such things at designated 
recreation centers in leave areas. But such charges ''ere not made in 
combat areas. 

Since there also is a minority of human thought that always likes 
to retail harmful rumors, many other stories came in the wake of 
World War II. One instance was the report from the Pacific that 
soldiers had to pay for blood plasma administered to the wounded. 
That story apparently will never die, despite repeated publicity that 
it apparently was based on the authenticated fact that one soldier who 
had lost heavily shooting craps wrote to his family asking for money 
to pay his debts, using as an excuse the urgent need for funds to pay 
for “Red Cross blood.” 

As for the Red Cross girls, both their morals and their alleged 
snobbery came under fire. The facts arc simple: 

1 . On the morals issue, it would be absurd to think that some thou- 
sands of healthy young women could be suddenly transported from 
routine lives in normal surroundings to foreign, adventuresome en- 
vironments— often in places where men outnumbered them by ftiou- 
sands to one— without there being incidents of promiscuity and 

There were such instances. No system of screening or physical or 
psychological examination has yet been devised to determine in ad- 
vance all the moral and mental quirks of even the most highly selected 

But such Red Cross incidents were so few — and the files on them 



are most complete — ^that anyone who regularly reads the articles on 
sex in the popular magazines, based on studies of normal persons in 
normal peacetime surroundings, would be amazed at their infrequency. 

On the social side, it will be reiterated far into the indefinite future 
that the “girls” were snobbish and associated socially only with offi- 
cers. And that is true, for the simple reason that they were so ordered. 
The Red Cross girl was rated as a civilian in uniform, under military 
discipline, and the military decreed that she live in her private life 
in combat areas under the same standards as those set for nurses, all 
of whom are commissioned officers. 

A truer picture of the Red Cross girl is that of her work on duty, 
when there was no rank in the men for whom she cooked, or organ- 
ized entertainment, or drove her clubmobile into outer wastes. These 
things, in this writer’s view, shrink into insignificance the occasional 
picture of the individual assigned for a while to a glamorous city where 
there might be time or opportunity to put on civilian clothes and go 
dancing for an evening at a hotel with some officer. 

And part of that truer picture is the grim fact which is hardly 
known — perhaps many critics do not want to know it — that far more 
than a handful of these Red Cross workers died for their service. 

Who stops to remember, if he ever knew, that deaths alone among 
Red Cross workers defined strictly as killed on duty or died of “service- 
induced disabilities abroad or soon after return home,” total for the 
four wars in the period of the American Red Cross 283 persons. 

Furthermore, there are more names of women than of men on this 
role of casualties. 

Here arc the statistics in bald form: 


One man killed, transporting medical supplies to 

El Caney, Cuba. 


Total Red Cross personnel 1 94 

Men 70 

Women 124 

(94 nurses, 4 nurses’ aides, 2 dieticians, 24 



Total Red Cross personnel 86 

Men 34 

Red Cross girls 52 


Total (both men) 2 

Had there been Red Cross nurses in World War II, lae figures 
would undoubtedly have been much larger. As it is, they need no 
elaboration. But there is one graphic comparison that speaks for itself. 

In World Wars I and II, the United States armed forces included 
a total of 20,467,000 men and women, of whom 533,828 were killed 
or died in service, a proportion of less than three individuals per 1 00 

In World Wars I and II, the Red Cross paid start totaled 51,600 

— all noncombatants— of whom 280 were killed or died as a result of 


that service, a proportion of five workers for each 1 ,000 enrolled. 


Here statistics cease. They defeat their own purpose, and besides there 
is no end to them because when the fighting ceased the Red Cross 
could not pack up and go home. 

Far ahead, beyond the imagination of the most gifted political 
leaders, there was to stretch an interminable period of military occu- 
pation of foreign countries, and recuriing crises that, after an initial 
demobilization, called for reinforcement of areas ».)verseas. 

The Red Cross job was to be as indefinite and as inconclusive as 
the military program in which it held the position of esteemed camp 
follower. And so it has remained to the umc of this recording. 

The principal change was that it was to become less glamorous and 
less exciting, but still stimulating after a fashion to those involved. 
And all in all, the job created a new tax on the ingenuity of the Red 
Cross, to do that which was asked of it, to do it with the least amount 
of criticism and, above all, to find the money after the fever of war- 
generous giving was past. 

Furthermore, once the shooting stopped, the Red Cross found itself 



with another problem, that of defending itself from criticism for its 
omissions or commissions in the war, of living down the overselling 
job that too zealous supporters had done during the war, and a state 
of mind in veterans that threatened to give it a black eye impossible 
to heal. 

Gradually the American Red Cross awakened to the plain fact that 
no one seemed to care or appreciate what it had done in the war. In- 
stead of emerging with a pat on the back for coping with millions of 
unforeseen problems, it found many critics who charged that it had as 
an organization taken a free ride with the military. And the only vocal 
veterans were those with real or imagined gripes. 

This created a confusion easy to understand, plus what amounted to 
a guilt complex, immediately after the end of hostilities, over the great 
surplus of war-collected funds still remaining on hand. Remember that 
in 1945 a drive had been conducted on the basis of expected pro- 
tracted war, the invasion of Japan in 1 946. The atom bombs dropped 
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended that. 

And in the meantime, Norman Davis had died in 1944 and was 
succeeded by a new type of figure in the American Red Cross, who 
would head it for five years, both as its last chairman under the old 
organization and its first president under a new form. 

The new leader was Basil O’Connor, former law partner of Presi- 
dent Franklin D. Roosevelt, and chairman of the Infantile Paralysis 
Foundation. While his period of leadership was controversial at times, 
Chairman O’Connor initiated the civilian blood program and sup- 
ported the democratization of the Red Cross. He also served without 

+ + + + + 

Realism and Reconversion 


fiMONG TJiii NOTABLE Casualties of Woilil War II, and one that 
few mourned or sought to revive, was the “Old Order.” Twice before, 
at the conclusion of wars, the Red Cross had changed its leadership, 
but in each case the New Guard was simply another group from the 
same social order. Now the structure was to change as well as the faces. 

There is a sentimental and deeply impressive symbolism in the fact 
that more than half the adult population of the United States were 
contributing members of the American Red C ross at the close of World 
War II. It is equally impressive and unbelievable to recall now that no 
nonreligious organization had a more self-perpetuating leadership 
than the American Red Cross. 

Now, while continuing to meet the needs of its time — without con- 
scious calculation but as an evolution in line with modern political 
and social development — the American Red Cross changed its whole 
structure without missing a step in its operating progress. In one self- 
searching gesture it hurdled the revolutionary change from social- 
financial dictatorship to democratic organization. 

Perhaps that is why it was able to meet the totally unanticipated 
need of the postwar world of the 1950s. Because the world in which 
the Red Cross was to work had changed also beyond any possibility of 
reconstruction to the older pattern. 

The speed and relative painlessness with which these changes oc- 




curred was due in large part to the new concepts of welfare organiza- 
tions developing in the public mind. For the Red Cross the action was 
partially a defensive one, because criticism was raining down upon it 
— the vicious and often petty criticism of the little minds who hunt for 
fleas on dogs because they are jealous of the dogs. 

Of the criticisms, and the steps taken to counteract them, more a 
little later. The preparation to face the United States as a responsible 
and responsive modern organization must come first. Leadership in 
this realization of the need to act has not been lost in the misty fogs of 
the past; it is definitely placed. First, as spokesman for the modem 
American thought, was E. Roland Harriman, the banker and railroad 
man who had worked in the field alongside the Red Cross staff. Sec- 
ond, giving full support to the work even though it might overturn all 
of his prior ideas, was Chairman Basil O’Connor. 

What was the Red Cross organization at the end of World War II, 
as it went into “reconversion to peace” in 1 946? 

It rested, first of all under the 1905 charter, upon an organization 
of sixty-five persons known as incorporators. These incorporators were 
self-perpetuating; when one dropped out or died, the remainder chose 
his or her successor. 

The Central Committee so often referred to in this chronicle con- 
sisted of eighteen persons. Under the old charter it was the governing 
body of the Red Cross, holding “all powers of government, direction 
and management.” 

The incorporators chose six persons. The President of the United 
States named six members, of whom one was the chairman of the Red 
Cross and the others were ex officio from the Departments of State, 
War, Navy, Treasury and Justice. 

Finally, six members of the Central Committee were chosen by the 
chapters, but unbelievable as it seems now there was no machinery by 
which the chapters elected their six members. It simply was provided 
that these places were to be filled at annual meetings of delegates of 
chapters held each December, not at the spring convention of the 
chapter delegates. Now, with 3,750 chapters, any fifteen delegates 
from chapters could constitute a quorum for election of the six mem- 
bers representing chapters on the Central Committee, and each person 
so chosen could hold this powerful prestige office for three years. 

realism and reconversion 


Usually, the Central Committee turned its authority over to an 
Executive Committee, or a smaller group of itself, consisting of only 
nine members. But any nine of the eighteen who happened to be 
present could act as the Executive Committee. 

The upshot of the whole scheme was : ( 1 ) the five government offi- 
cials appointed by the President of the United States, being busy 
members of the government, seldom attended any meetings, and some 
none whatsoever; (2) the six chapter delegates were resid*. 'its of re- 
mote cities and only occasionally were even three of them available for 
emergency meetings; (3) the six incorporator members, consisting 
primarily of persons living in or near Washington, always held the 
controlling vote on policies, appropriations and major decisions. And 
not even the President could question or remove an incorporator. 

It is small wonder that the Central Committee, facing a new crisis, 
accepted the advice of the group headed by Harnman and, with 
O’Connor’s backing, took a long look at itself and the accessory string 
of titles built up for its own exclusive group. These titles themselves 
were confusing. 

From time to time, there has been mention of Red Cross vice presi- 
dents. TTicse were honorary, as was the presidency itself held by the 
U.S. President. On the other hand, the chairman was the chief execu- 
tive officer, serving at the pleasure of the President but, as we have 
seen, appointed for life. None was ever removed from office. Confu- 
sion began at the level of the vice chairmen, because these were the 
working executives of the Red Cross, almost always paid officers and 
with direct responsibilities in fields of operation. 

On March 4, 1<)46, Chairman O'Connor set up a twenty-seven- 
member Advisory Committee on Organization, with Harriman as 
chairman. The committee, with the exception of two members who 
never attended meetings, rendered a unanimous report on June 11, 
and by September 16 the Central Committee had amended the report 
in some details and accepted the whole program. The recommenda- 
tions of the Red Cross for reforming itself were so obviously right that 
a new charter was adopted as law by Congress without debate in either 
the House or Senate. Thus the Red Cross, almost overnight in rela- 
tionship to its age, achieved the three goals set for the 1946 study: 

1. That the Red Cross will truly represent the nation that it serves. 



2. That the governing organization will truly represent, and be re- 
sponsive to, the entire membership of the Red Cross. 

3. That the organization structure of the Red Cross will lend itself 
to the most effective possible handling of the programs and activities of 
the Red Cross. 

The President of the United States became the honorary chairman, 
with the right to name the chairman and 8 members of a new Board of 
Directors, reflecting the enlargement of major Cabinet offices. The 
big change came in the selection of 42 other members of the Board, 
Of these, 30 were thereafter to be elec.ed by chapters at the annual 
conventions, in successive blocks of 10, for three-year terms. Each 
slate of candidates also must represent various geographical areas. Fi- 
nally, these 30, plus the President’s 8, were to choose 12 members from 
among persons of national stature as members at large. These were to 
be representative of broad national interest. Appointees are divided 
among labor, the sciences, arts and professions. 

At the same time the Red Cross went under administration of a 
president instead of a chairman, and the administrative officers be- 
came vice presidents, as in other corporations, headed by an executive 
vice president and general manager — a post filled then and still held in 
1 958 by a Red Cross professional veteran, James T. Nicholson. 

One more change was made in 1954, when the affairs of the Red 
Cross finally were recognized as needing the full-time service of a 
president, separate from the position of chairman and “principal offi- 
cer.” With that revision the office of president, created in 1946, be- 
came again the chairmanship, and the Red Cross installed a full-time 

The new operating head of the Red Cross became a full-time official 
without relationship to his own personal means. He was elected by the 
Board of Governors. As its first president under the new order Ells- 
worth Bunker, corporation executive and former Ambassador to 
Argentina, became president. When he resigned to accept the offer of 
the ambassadorship to India, he was succeeded by General Alfred M. 

In the meantime, since 1950, when Basil O’Connor retired, the 
“new Red Cross,” had been headed by two men. 

General of the Army George C. Marshall served as president from 


October 1, 1949 to December 1, 1950. Thereafter, the architect of 
the modern organization, E, Roland Harriman, was called to the 
leadership, first as president from December 1, 1950, until January 1, 
1954, and until this writing as “Chairman of the Red Cross and its 
Principal Officer.” 

With the old order, particularly the female domination of the organi- 
zation, long a thing of the past, these three men— O’Connor, Marshall 
and Harriman — have reconstructed the Red Cross in a manne incom- 
prehensible to its former leaders. Some of the reconstruction has been 
due to new ideas of business administration. More is the result of a 
changed pattern of requirements in keeping with the stature ol the Red 

It became after World War II the “big” welfare organization. Never 
again could it become small in the new atmosphere in which it worked. 


After World War 1 the Red Cross had virtually collapsed, as far as 
need for its activities was recognized in the public mind. No such 
shocking decline came in 1946. Despite the criticisms and the 
slanders, the public in general continued to support the Red Cross, to 
contribute generously to it and to expect its services. 

Some of the postwar confidence undoubtedly was made possible 
by the wholesale reorganization, and such things as bringing spokes- 
men for the great labor unions, the American Federation of Labor and 
the Congress of Industrial Organizations, onto Board membership 
alongside other outstanding leaders, not only from finance and the 
law but from journalism, education and— most importantly — the 

Much of the atmosphere of a surviving healthy organization sur- 
rounded the tremendous job thrust upon the Red Cross with dena.>bi- 

Most of the mobile canteens were brought back from abroad, and 
the great majority of the overseas hotels and restaurants were closed. 
Within two years the national payroll was cut back by two-thirds. The 
Red Cross showed the public how it was retrenching. It cut expendi- 
tures of $1 33,000,000 in 1945-46 in half the next year, and down to 
$50,000,000 in 1947-48. Bui yet, small as these seemed, they still 



were ten times those of the last year before World War II. They would 
not drop any lower in the next decade, although no attempt would be 
made for some years to collect as much as was spent. 

Oddly enough, the leadership of the Red Cross again underesti- 
mated the extent of public support. There were grave fears of the re- 
percussions of the “GI gripes,” of the effect of the peace-consciousness 
on public giving, and in 1 947 the added factors of more disagreements 
with organized labor plus a renewal of feuding over fund-raising with 
community chests. Yet the Red Cross came out with colors flying. 

In 1946 the fund campaign was cut back to $100,000,000, to be 
roughly divided equally between National Headquarters and the chap- 
ters. The drive yielded $118,000,000. A year later a “modest” cam- 
paign for only $60,000,000 yielded almost $80,000,000. 

But in the meantime the Red Cross was deliberately spending far 
more from its national budget than it was collecting. Rightly or 
wrongly, and knowing something of the demobilization and recon- 
struction demands which it faced, the leadership determined to dissi- 
pate as constructively as possible a large part of the huge surplus left 
over from the war drives. This amounted for the national organization 
on July 1 , 1 945, to $ 1 8 1 ,800,000. 

In the meantime, the pattern of postwar work by the Red Cross had 
changed beyond recognition, as compared with the task thirty vears 


No longer was the Red Cross involved in the humane and often deli- 
cate operations incident to foreign civilian relief, except in most 
limited cases. A new concept and new machinery had come into being 
for this work. This now was a task for governments, and the ma- 
chinery was provided by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation 

The task of the Red Cross in the two years after World War II was 
primarily that of converting from foreign military operations to domes- 
tic demobilization work, and in some fields supplying help to a degree 
greater than ever before. The statistics are staggering in retrospect, 
and Red Cross personnel, such as survived the constant staff-cutting, 
shifted from job to job in totally unrelated fields. 

The force of thousands of canteen workers abroad practically disap- 

realism and reconversion 


peared by the middle of 1947 when the Army took over the service 
clubs and recreation centers. But by that time other large groups of 
Red Cross workers were in hospitals and Veterans Administration fa- 
cilities in the United States. 

At one time the Red Cross held the power of attorney for 1,400,000 
veterans, representing their claims in the red tape necessary to return 
to civilian life with proper benefits. Three hundred Red Crossers, ex- 
cluding clerical staff, were assigned to this work alone. T'rom the 
chapters innumerable Gray Ladies, nurses’ aides, Junior Red Cross 
and members of almost every other branch of volunteer activities, an- 
swered the call for entertainment and personal morale work issued by 
the Veterans Administration. 

Some 65,000 war brides required and received unlimited help from 
chapters in settling in their new environment. Disabled veterans, dislo- 
cated dischargees, families of veterans and men still in service — in 
1946 and 1947 these mounted to a total case load approximating 

4.000. 000. 

While statistics fell into fractions compared with the work of the 
services in wartime, the Red Cross by no means suffered the contrac- 
tion of earlier postwar eras. In 1946—47, with the country theoretically 
at peace, the Canteen Corps served more than 3,000,000 servicemen 
and veterans, the Motor Corps logged 8,000,000 miles in its assign- 
ments, nearly 60,000 home visits were made by social welfare aides in 
response to appeals for help, and nearly 13,000 nurses’ aides vvcre each 
month carrying out hospital assignments. 

This work, plus sewing for displaced persons in Europe and the 
scores of other required or assumed chapter tasks, occupied 275,000 
enrolled volunteers in 1947, five times the 1939 total, giving more- 
over twenty-five times the number of hours, plus an estimated addi- 
tional 2,000,000 part-time volunteers who worked less regularl) than 
those who were officially enrolled. 

The number of contributors to the Red Cross — ^paying members — 
did drop from the wartime peak of more than 36,000,000 to about 

1 8.000. 000, where it held steady thereafter for some years. But that 
was still more than twice the 1940-41 total, prior to Pearl Harbor. 

It was noted, too, that the size of the contribution was greater per 
member. The older days of soliciting dollar campaigns were gone. 



Now larger donations were requested, although a dollar still did, as it 
does now, rate a membership card. 

Back behind the adult membership was the new school organiza- 
tion, born in World War I and now a part of the program of almost 
two-thirds of the country’s schools. This was the Junior Red Cross 
with, in 1947, more than 19,000,000 children attending classes carry- 
ing out recognized programs. Yes, America was Red Cross minded. 

While reorganizing its Headquarters machinery, readjusting its 
finances to peacetime levels and lopping off surplus war staff, the Red 
Cross management paid considerable attention to what it was doing 
as well as the means available for doing it. 

It took a long look at its peacetime services. 

Under its charter responsibilities and obligations. Disaster stood at 
the head of the list. 

First Aid, Water Safety and Accident Prevention were the bulwark 
of peacetime training programs to keep the chapters profitably occu- 
pied, hold community interest, and increase constantly the dividends 
of Red Cross work. 

In the opposite direction, government agencies had made such 
strides in public health work that the Nursing Service and public 
health work almost ceased to be a requirement of privately supported 
welfare work. Red Cross nursing was hardly needed anywhere, and 
the nursing connection with the armed forces, already confined to re- 
cruiting in World War II, dissolved in 1 947 with creation of a perma- 
nent Army and Navy Nurse Corps. 

To replace these activities, more emphasis was placed on training 
of nurses for disaster work and the civil defense program. A nutrition 
program caught the interest of a large majority of chapters. 

Finally, the blood program was converted, hesitantly and carefully 
at first, into a civilian operation. 

Despite all these activities, however, the Red Cross gradually slipped 
away from its high wartime plateau, except for a resurgence of spo- 
radic work during the Korean War, with chapter after chapter retreat- 
ing into a state of relative inactivity. 

In later years, as so often before, it was natural disaster relief work 
that again raised the Red Cross standard high in the public under- 




It is a matter of fantastic record that in the four years of total national 
preoccupation with World War II not a single disaster of note hap- 
pened in the United States. Otherwise errant rivers remained docilely 
within their banks, tornadoes on the Great Plains and in the South 
gave only token demonstrations, and no great hurricanes barged out 
of their Atlantic breeding grounds to devastate eastern or southern 

True, there were small disasters, intensely important to the indi- 
viduals involved, but from the standpoint of relief and rehabilitation 
requirements easily handled in the Red Cross tradition by small groups 
of persons and expenditures of money that were negligible in compari- 
son with other activities. 

In fact, after World War II there was evident concern within the 
Red Cross on two points; (1 ) How to keep alive the skills and train- 
ing that would need to be mustered should great natural disasters 
strike again; and (2) How to prevent the mushrooming government 
agencies (likewise fighting for survival) from swamping the Red Cross 
role in this now traditional task. In the two years of 1945 and 1946, 
even with qjnore generous attitude in making grants than had marked 
prewar years because of the higher cost of all things, the Red C ross ex- 
pended only $7,000,000 in its work in disasters. These averaged 300 
a year, but none was a large commitment. 

A Red Cross report in 1946 stated that “clouds are appearing on 
the disaster relief horizon,” because “Government today is rendering a 
number of services to disaster sufferers that were rendered by Red 
Cross disaster relief 10, 15 or 20 years ago.” This meant, the report 
added, that “the Red Cross should be on the alert at all times to check 
every force, every trend, every development, no matter how small, 
that will reduce the efficiency of disaster relief.” 

To some critics of the Red Cross such statements seem self-seeking. 
But the cold fact is — as this reporting member wrote — that govern- 
ment had not then and has not at this writing ever displaced the disas- 
ter services built up over three generations by the Red Cross, or found 
the means to provide out of ordinary appropriations the money to do 
the things the Red Cross does. 



To explain the difTerence may seem like a splitting of hairs, but it 
hinges importantly on Harriman's explanation that in disaster work the 
Red Cross is primarily “people helping people.” Government may now 
replace the roads, restore public services, reopen demolished schools 
and spend scores of millions on things. But the Red Cross is the agency 
through which funds go to rebuild and refurnish small houses, get little 
businesses going quickly, clothe children, and care for the elderly and 
helpless. The pattern has never changed, except in terms of dollars 
and wider application, from the time that Clara Barton started it. 

As recently as 1955, in the time of the great New England flood. 
President Eisenhower flew to the scene to emphasize the importance 
of the Red Cross role; in that and many other instances, states in 
disaster emergencies have designated the Red Cross as the official 
agency to receive and dispense relief funds. 

It hinges on the fact that, basically, the Red Cross is organized for 
guidance and communications; it has the people and generally the con- 
fidence of the public; and through its chapter organization it is every- 

Another important point is that the Red Cross, despite occasional 
lambasting from critics, does not exist in a special world of its own or 
live surrounded by a vacuum. Every Red Cross volunteer knows that 
he lives in a world of crosshatching organizations. Scratch a Red Cross 
volunteer and you will nearly always find another organization coating 
or two underneath his Red Cross coloring. Pick out the leading volun- 
teers in other community services and likely as not they are board 
members of the Red Cross chapter. 

The Red Cross has failed to make this clear. Leaders of too many 
chapters concentrate in their publicity on Red Cross exclusively, and 
not enough on their interwoven status in community service. 

A Red Cross vice president, battling with this task of mutual un- 
derstanding, once told the writer: 

“How can you make the public understand that the Red Cross itself 
never gave anybody a nickel, or never withheld a dollar from any vic- 
tim of disaster. We are distributing agents, awarding relief from funds 
the public has trusted to us for humane work. The Red Cross in dis- 
aster work is everybody, and especially it’s the public agent that stays 
behind for months helping the rehabilitation work of people, not just 

realism and reconversion 


staying there long enough to pass out coffee and sandwiches and have 
its picture taken.” 

As a footnote to this comment, in the years since World War II, 
eighty-five to ninety cents out of every dollar spent on disasters from 
Red Cross contributed funds have gone into the unpublicized job of 
rehabilitation, contrasted with the ten to fifteen cents of Red Cross 
money and the entirety of other organization relief funds spent during 
the immediate period of emergency. 

In 1946, while the Red Cross leadership was so worried about its 
future role in disaster work, none could forecast how this would dra- 
matically face the Red Cross with financial crises before a decade had 
run out. 

+ + + + + 

Roll Call at 75 

Ten years after the end of World War If the American Red Cross 
reached its seventy-fifth birthday, or what in other times would have 
been called a Diamond Jubilee, but it had neither the time nor the will 
to sit back and celebrate. 

In the first place, the word “diamond” created a bad taste in the 
mouths ot ‘:>dministrative and volunteer leaders who were hard-pressed 
to make ends meet, despite generous contributions, in the face of the 
constant service demands made on the Red Cross. In the second place, 
the Red Cross was too busy. 

The uneasy peace that sat upon the world had turned the Red Cross 
into a duality of operations such as the organization never had faced 
before. It had to be both a military arm and a continuing peacetime 
welfare organization. Furthermore, the outlook was that this condition 
would continue into all of the foreseeable future. 

The military program, carried on in proportion to the continued 
high state of United States mobilization and foreign troop assign- 
ments, was a burden far heavier than anyone had anticipated in 1945 
or 1946. Services to the Armed Forces remained, in fact, the largest 
year-in-and-year-out commitment of the organization. In addition, 
disaster relief and rehabilitation, the second largest operation, spurted 
after a few routine years into a fantastic demand on the Red Cross 
and, in turn, upon the public, whom it must ask for special assistance. 




Added to these commitments came new programs such as the blood 
program, converted from a military to a civilian operation, and coop- 
erative work in the civilian defense program. And all the while the 
more standard older services of the Red Cross continued to grow far 
beyond the normal rate of increase in the population. 

The facts of the record were that the United States gave more and 
more acceptance to the Red Cross programs, and in turn the Red 
Cross services involved a heavily rising rate of expenditures. Although 
in some periods the financial support given to the Red Cross fell short 
of the actual costs, the organization had come into a peacetime accept- 
ance without comparison. Gone was the most heartbreaking aspect of 
the past, the forgetfulness of Americans in times of peace. 

In 1956 the Red Cross rolls carried the names of more than 40,- 
000,000 members, about equally divided between adult and junior 
groups. And in that year, in response to both the regular membership 
campaigns and special appeals for extraordinary demands of disaster, 
the American people contributed approximately $ 1 00,000,000 to the 
Red Cross. 

In the chapters of the Red Cross, 2,000,000 volunteers rendered 
various services, particularly for veterans and in disaster work on the 
spectacular side, that in hours were reckoned as the equivalent of full- 
time work by approximately 20,000 persons. 

Supporting, training and handling the technical work of the Red 
Cross were approximately 14,300 salaried persons, in the United 
States and around the world, including about 4,400 on the payroll of 
the national organization and 9,900 scattered through more than 
2,300 chapters. 

In the remaining 1 ,400 chapters, volunteers performed all chapter 

What were these persons doing? How had the peacetime Red Cross 
grown so large? They were doing substantially what had been done 
down through the years, but better and more completely than earlier — 
people helping people. Roscoe Drummond, of the New York Herald 
Tribune, summed it up in a special article by terming the Red Cross 
“the trustee of the nation’s humanity.” 

Yet, while the Red Cross seemed large, and its outlay of $100,000,- 
000 a year seemed huge when set off by itself, the wonder was that 
this organization — ^largest of the welfare agencies and unique in its 



responsibilities for military and disaster relief work — ^was yet only a 
dot on the page of the total welfare outlay by the people of the United 
States, to which the public contributed about four billion dollars each 

Let’s take a quick look at some summaries of the Red Cross in action 
as 1956 closed its seventy-fifth year — ^facts drawn from the audited 
report for the fiscal year running from July 1, 1956 to June 30, 1957. 


There is a message center operated in Washington by the Red Cross 
that averages a message a minute around the clock around the year. 
There are few areas in the world outside the Iron Curtain from which 
the messages do not come, or to which they are not addressed. This is 
the link of communications between the men in the armed forces over- 
seas and their home communities, the private and confidential link 
communicating their problems, the family questions, and the reports 
of solutions outside of military channels. 

Here is the means by which the serviceman in Korea whose wife 
may be expecting a baby, or another whose father has died, may have 
his immediate questions answered and his pressing problems, in so far 
as possible, resolved. 

There is no point in the world where a Red Cross staff man is not in 
touch with military units, and no place in the United States so remote 
that a Red Cross chapter does not get into touch with it in answer to 
such messages. This is the result of organisation on a two-way street. 
Abroad there are at this writing more than 600 Red Cross field staff 
members serving with the troops; in the United States every chapter, 
no matter how small, is geared to handle, as well as humanly possible, 
through Home Service, this phase of military work. 

And that is only one detail of the job for the armed forces which the 
Red Cross workers have learned to do. They counsel and guide in 
personal problems, and comfort the sick and injured. In cases of dis- 
tress, the Red Cross loans the GI emergency tide-over funds, and 
while loans arc expected to be repaid the loans sometimes very often 
— ^have become gifts. 

The “uneasy peace” days of 1958 aroused echoes of war work in 



the Red Cross routine as it followed the military to scenes of crisis in 
Lebanon and Formosa. 

A Red Cross field director landed with the first detachments of 
soldiers and marines at Beirut, flying down from Wiesbaden, Ger- 
many. Within a few days he was joined by half a dozen others, forti- 
fied with 20,000 pounds of supplies flown in by Air Force cargo 
planes. What kind of supplies? Writing paper, cigarettes, towels, razor 
blades, candy (all luxuries when the military moves in a hurry) and, 
according to a Stars and Stripes story the most popular item of all — 
pocket sewing kits known the world round as “The Housewife.” 

Then came the Formosan crisis in September, with renewed calls 
upon the Red Cross, most simply described by this fragment of a dis- 
patch to the New York Times of September 22, 1958: 

They [the American reinforcements] came with such speed 
that some not only forgot their razors but were plunged into the 
unsuspected depths of domestic difliculty by neglecting to adjust 
their personal pay records. 

As a result many soldiers have suddenly found themselves on 
some remote base in Taiwan without personal articles and with 
no post exchange in sight. Also, they came to realize that their 
wives in Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere were^likewise 
stranded without rent money, since the Defense Department does 
not dispense wages in the absence of properly validated docu- 

A large number of these men appealed to the nearest Red 
Cross station for help. As a result the Red Cross itself has had to 
expand its Taiwan complement in a hurry. A Tokyo Red Cross 
officer flew here so suddenly that he forgot his own pocket comb. 

In the military hospitals Red Cross workers carry forward medically 
approved programs of entertainment, recreation, crafts and hobbies, 
which is largely the field of the volunteer. In fact, with deployment of 
great forces overseas, in many areas the Red Cross volunteers in this 
work are themselves the wives of servicemen assigned to the installa- 

In sum, such activities so easily and briefly noted represent a job that 
in itself would require a world-wide organization if the Red Cross did 

roil call at 75 


nothing else. In its seventy-fifth year of American service, three fan- 
tastic totals were recorded by the Red Cross in its Services to the 
Armed Forces: 

1. 144,000 members of the armed forces, veterans, and their fami- 
lies were served each month in chapters; 

2. 98,000 members of the armed forces were served each month in 
military hospitals and installations here and overseas: 

3. 8,200 volunteers worked each month in Home Service to help 
members of the armed foices, veterans, and their families. 

More than half of the total payroll of the National Headquarters of 
the American Red Cross — including 127 in Washington, 1,721 
around the country and 623 abroad — ^were assigned to the military 
job, and almost a third of all the money spent by the national and 
chapter organizations went to support it. 

But money is not the only gauge of the siz*. of this job that a decade 
earlier would have seemed unbelievable in a world at peace. Almost 
45,000 volunteers racked up over 4,000,000 hours of work in more 
than 750 military and veterans’ hospitals and installations. 

The old glamor days of the overseas’ clubs and rambling clubmo 
biles were almost things of the past, although a few clubmobiles were 
still maifltained in Korea and there were a few recreation fac^'lities for 
able-bodied servicemen adjacent to isolated military posts in France 
and Morocco. 

Now the Services to the Armed Forces were an inspiring but hard, 
routine day-to-day task. Without it, the serviceman, particularly over- 
seas, would be far closer to a cipher in military regulations, enmeshed 
even in his leisure as well as his personal life in red tape. In his prob- 
lems and his personal affairs, the Red Cross was an important link to 
his individual security as a citizen. 


Two areas of speculation in which man has never been able to make 
definite predictions are proverbial: one is horse racing and tlie other is 
the weather. In disaster relief, therefore, the Red Cross always has had 
to study averages and plan accordingly. 

As a prudent speculator it has followed for many years the processes 



used by companies that write insurance against death, fire and other 
hazards. The Red Cross first appropriates an annual sum in its budget 
to cover disaster commitments; second, after World War II it set aside 
the unused portions of these annual appropriations as a Disaster Re- 
serve; third, when an extraordinary disaster beyond available resources 
occurs, it launches a special appeal for additional funds, just as a mu- 
tual insurance association might assess its members to meet deficien- 

The system worked well until nature turned in 1955 from normal 
capriciousness to wild behavior in a totally unexpected manner that 
bore no relationship to the pattern of great disasters of the past. In 
1955, and for the following two years, the disaster pattern took on 
new aspects while amply retaining the normal features of the old. 
Hurricanes occurred with unprecedented violence in areas far from 
their established courses, floods ravaged areas untouched by excessive 
high water in the country’s history, tornadoes turned from “twisters” 
that damaged localized and isolated areas into major devastators of 
large communities. In Europe an eruption against communism in Hun- 
gary caused dislocations and special relief needs that themselves were 
new in American Red Cross experience. 

To put the comparison simply, this work can record, at its comple- 
tion early in 1958, a contrast that in less than three years-had com- 
pletely changed the financial situation of the Red Cross: 

Disaster costs in 1955, 1956 and 1957 were so great that, despite 
special drives that netted $22,102,297 in contributions over and above 
the annual fund campaigns, the Red Cross closed the two fiscal years 
ended June 30, 1957, with expenditures from National Headquarters 
exceeding receipts by approximately $ 17,000,000. 

The last cent of the cash reserve funds remaining from the surplus 
of the World War collections, plus other reserves built up in succeed- 
ing years, was gone. 

In issuing the 1957 financial statement. Chairman Harriman and 
General Alfred M. Gruenther, president of the Red Cross, said: 

A hundred million dollars was received by the Red Cross dur- 
ing the year in membership fees and fund campaign contribu- 
tions, in disaster contributions, and in income for other special 
purposes. Yet because disaster relief over the past two years cost 



about $50,000,000, the organization ended its fiscal year on June 

30, 1957, with its reserves practically exhausted. 

This was the accounting of the Red Cross just before the period 
when the recession of 1957 ended what had been for most public and 
private organizations an era of unprecedented prosperity. But there 
was another side to the picture, and it was good. By maintaining its 
pledged services, putting relief of human suffering above worries over 
financial reserves, and plunging ahead with confidence, the Red Cross 
appeared to have gained far more in public understanding and ap- 
proval than it had held in any other peacetime era. 

The Disaster Program of the Red Cross was changed very little in 
tone from fifty years ago; it just happened that there were more di..- 
asters, more persons affected, and more costly damages to be rectified 
in the limited manner that relief and rehabilitation are given. The word 
“limited” is used deliberately. 

The Red Cross found out long ago that it cannot replace all losses. 
In relief, it helps to rally facilities for shelter and feeding of all persons 
immediately affected. In rehabilitation, its rule is to help the helpless 
without other places to turn, to get back on their feet, just to — ^but not 
beyond — the point where they can begin to rebuild their lives. In ex- 
treme cases up to $5,000 has been spent for the benefit of individual 
families, ^ut these are rare, despite misconceptions to the contrary. No 
loans are made and no repayment of gifts expected or requested. 

Since its founding the American Red Cross has spent $246,000,000 
on disaster work in the United States and $46,000,000 in foieign 

Thanks largely to the stimulus of volunteer training for civil defense 
work — the added glamour that spurred such training — the Red Cross 
human resources for disaster work reached a new peak of effectiveness 
among volunteers by the mid- 1 950s. 

Whether a cyclone wiped out a Kansas community, hurricanes tore 
through the Gulf states, or floods ravaged northeastern or far north- 
western areas where residents had only heard of such occurrences far 
away on the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers, Red Cross workers were 
ready. Added to their own instructions in manuals and by skeleton 
national field staffs were their own newly developed skills in mass 
feeding and care. 


Roll CAll AT 75 

When the tasks of rehabilitation, principally the restoration of 
damaged homes, were undertaken, there were new. groups of volun- 
teers consisting of bankers, businessmen, contractors and real estate 
specialists ready to assume, as realistic local Red Cross committees, 
the tasks of awarding grants in aid that in earlier days had fallen to 
Red Cross staff personnel. 

This one development alone took from the professional staff the 
onerous job of saying “no” in many cases, with consequent damning 
criticism of the Red Cross, as Percy noted in “Lanterns on the Levee.” 
Furthermore, the new practice saved money. Outsiders could be more 
realistic, and better informed about local conditions, than the Red 
Cross social worker could know or dare to be. 

These are the reasons why the American Red Cross, even when 
spending scores of millions on disaster operations, does it with a paid 
staff smaller than the number of persons employed in single units of 
supermarkets. In 1956 all disaster work was supervised nationally by 
94 persons, and at the peak in 1957 this total grew to only 137. 

This meant that in two years in which tliere were 583 disaster relief 
operations the Red Cross national organization maintained on its pay- 
roll an average of one person for each five disasters, or one paid expert 
for each half million dollars of money spent on emergency relief and 

Lest disaster work be lost in a statistical maze of dollars, let four 
facts be recorded for 1 957 as the human side of this picture: 

In that one year 593 chapters in 44 states answered calls for dis- 
aster relief: 

Giving emergency mass care to 3 1 1 ,000 persons; 

Plus long-range recovery assistance to 88,000 families; 

With the assistance of 82,000 volunteers. 


The number of lives saved by the Red Cross blood program, both in 
its pioneering work and in day-to-day operation is incalculable. Any 
guesswork is liable to either exaggeration or underestimation. But it 
has contributed in peacetime to as great a development in humane as- 
sistance as it did to revolutionizing the techniques of war. 

roil call at 75 


These statements are factual. And yet this program has generated 
controversies that seem inconceivable in a modern society. The Red 
Cross has had to fight its way through arguments and criticisms com- 
parable only to the aftermath of the wartime program for the armed 
services. These criticisms have not come from blood donors or blood 
recipients, but from outside critics whose charges have ranged from 
“busybody” to competition with other agencies. 

As one result, the Red Cross blood program is not trul^ national. 
Chapters participating in it generally are located east of the Rocky 
Mountains, and it is spotty in many areas. In large cities such as New 
York it is accepted by some hospitals and medical groups, but not by 

One result has been — and is likely to continue — that on frequent 
occasions the desperate family told that only blood transfusions will 
save a member, or the family’s physician, find themselves denied access 
to Red Cross free blood, never by the Red Cross or its chapters but by 
local practices and regulations. 

Another headache which caused the Red Cross to consider occa- 
sionally the desperate step of stopping the blood program altogether 
has been the matter of criticism about “charges for blood,” Yet the 
Red Cross has never charged for blood. Here arc the simple facts, if 
the record- will help to explain this situation: 

Red Cross blood is free, given freely by donors and handled as a 
charge paid from funds of National Headquarters and chapters. In 
recent years the hospitals and clinics drawing upon the Red Cross 
blood banks have paid the small cost of the special containers in which 
it is packed. Hospitals using tnis blood do make regular charges for 
administering it. In too many cases, patients have not understood that 
their bills in connection with blood transfusions of Red Cross supplies 
have been exclusively for service, not for the blood itself. 

Yet despite this continuing l^attle for understanding, the blood pro- 
gram has become a miracle of organization and, under Red Cross de- 
velopment, a service that it would be difficult to duplicate otherwise. 
At this writing the Red Cross blood program is operating in fifty 
regions with the cooperation of 1,440 chapters. And this program is 
supplying 40 per cent of all blood used in civilian hospitals, in addition 
to “blood fractions” for clinical use and for study by scientists. 

When one writes that the Red Cross is supplying blood, it means 


ROLL CAll AT 75 

that as an agency of understanding volunteers, it has collected in a 
single year approximately 2,200,000 individual blcrad donations, and 
distributed this blood to civilian or federal hospitals in every state for 
treatment of patients. More than 118,000 volunteers made it possible 
to carry out this program at a cost of less than six dollars per unit col- 
lected, or a very small fraction of the commercial payments recipients 
otherwise had to pay for blood from professional donors. 

But mere distribution of blood for normal infusion into patients, 
important as it was, may have been, for the long run, the minor part 
of the picture. New and great developments were coming out of the 
blood program. 

Take fibrinogen as a prime example. This derivative from blood 
is credited with great value in controlling hemorrhage resulting from 
certain complications in childbirth. It was isolated in research by 
scientists cooperating in the blood program. However, it was scarce 
and hard to extract. In fact, announcement of its availability for clini- 
cal use was withheld for a long time lest false hopes be shattered. 

In 1957 fibrinogen was no longer an optimistie mirage because new 
techniques developed through pilot investigations contracted for by 
the Red Cross with the State of Michigan Department of Health Labo- 
ratories found a key to its processing. 

This was only one dramatic development. Another was fhe supply- 
ing of blood in ever widening practiee for use in the miraeulous heart- 
lung machines used to send oxygenated blood through the bodies of 
patients, while surgeons perform operations in hearts temporarily 
diverted from their normal action. 

The Red Cross distributed substantial quantities of serum albumin 
and gamma globulin, other blood “fractions,” whose Latin names are 
usually meaningless to laymen, unless acute need has made the prod- 
ucts vital to lifesaving. 

The cumulative distribution had in mid- 195 8 a current commercial 
value of more than $57,000,000. 

And all the while the Red Cross was supplying serum albumin for 
stockpiling by the Federal Civilian Defense Administration and con- 
tinuing its planning for national emergency operations. 

In this work there were few headlines, but rewarding dividends for 
those who knew the meaning of the programs in terms of human life. 

ROll CAll AT 7S 



There are few persons who will not recall having seen on Red Cross 
posters the traditional “Red Cross nurse,” symbolized by the scarlet- 
lined blue cape. Yet so many Americans consider the figure as a me- 
morial tribute to the time when Red Cross nurses served with the Army 
as a professional civilian group. 

The symbolism is there certainly, but the Red Cross nun^e is today 
very real and active, at the very peak of the trained and professional 
volunteers ready to drop their income-earning jobs to answer disaster 
calls and meanwhile contributing their time to almost world-wide 
chapter training programs. 

The enrollment of nurses as volunteers in the Red Cross exceeds at 
this writing the total of 50,000. They are the teachers and leaders in 
the training of the volunteer nurses’ aides on whom hospitals have 
come to depend and who are an integral part of the civil defense pro- 
gram. They conduct weekly classes in programs descriptively named 
“Care of the Sick and Injured,” and “Mother and Baby Care.” 

The volunteer Red Cross nurse is frequently on hand in the school 
health programs, and in Salk vaccine immunization projects. 

When survivors of a maritime disaster are landed at a port. Red 
Cross nqfses meet them (as in the case of thirty-two mustered to 
assist the victims of the Andrea Doria disaster), and they do the 
anonymous job of attending large public functions where help is mi- 
raculously available if someone becomes ill or an accident occurs. 

To name some high lights of the work done by volunteer nurses in 
the seventy-fifth anniversary year of the American Red Cross: 

2.300 nurses accepted assignments in 30 major disaster operations; 

129 assignments were made for polio nursing; 

4.300 gave their time to attend disaster training conferences. 

No, the Red Cross nurse has not been relegated to legend. 


It is fundamental in human nature that much attention is given to 
individuals who do spectacular things — a proper tribute to courage, 
ingenuity or skill — ^but the forgotten individual in human society is 
the teacher whose training enabled the hero to be a hero. 



In this field the Red Cross must always accept the anonymous role 
of the teacher, and yet fight for at least enough recognition to gain 


public support and the dollars to continue. The Red Cross as an or- 
ganization never rescues a person from drowning, but the chances 
are 99 out of 100 that the lifesaver who makes a rescue has taken the 
coiu'se required to earn a Red Cross lifesaver’s certificate. 

In 1957, when our population was three times its size in 1912, 
drownings totaled only one-third of the figure for the earlier year. The 
motor patrols on the highways that respond to accident calls usually 
are policemen or firemen, but their first-aid training has been given 
by a Red Cross expert. 

At a time when 85,000,000 Americans have come to some form of 
participation in sports on or in the water, water safety as a Red Cross 
program has become an established part of the American pattern of 
life. We are a water-wealthy country and since World War II have 
burgeoned into a water-play country. This does not mean just at sea- 
side resorts or around notable lakes. For example, there is a favorite 
riddle often asked of water-safety students: What State has the longest 
shoreline of banks bordering waterways? The answer is Oklahoma. 

There is human value indeed in the fact that in the last recorded 
year nearly 2,500,000 certificates were awarded in Red Cross classes 
to persons completing training courses in first aid, water ffcxfety and 
home nursing; that 172,000 volunteers in almost 3,000 chapters were 
needed to give the courses and that 108,000 Red Cross volunteers 
gave chapter services and manned safety services on the highways 


On the evening of July 19, 1958, National Headquarters of the Ameri- 
can Red Cross issued a news story containing this announcement: 

“General Alfred M. Gruenther, president of the American Red 
Cross, expressed the organization’s official pleasure today that the 
Red Cross had been able to arrange for the release of the nine U.S. 
servicemen detained in East Germany since June 7.” 

This carefully correct language marked another milestone through 
the years in which the Red Cross, as a world-wide association, is able 
to cross otherwise blocked national boundaries in carrying out its 


roil call at 7S 

humane errands — always, of course, with the advice and consent of 
our government when the American Red Cross is involved. 

In this case, the' nine men had been forced down by bad weather 
that blew their helicopter into East Germany. Why they were detained 
by the Communist government (as others had been similarly detained) 
is at this writing inexplicable, but in any event the normal and civi- 
lized means of communication by governments were shut off by the 
Iron Curtain. Yet when the government authorized the Reu Cross in 
Washington to open negotiations. Dr. Werner Ludwig, president of 
the East German Red Cross, was permitted, and was willing, to negoti- 
ate with our Red Cross. 

The first meeting was held June 27. Starting in July, an American 
Red Cross representative took parcels and mail daily to East Berlin, 
for delivery to the prisoners and was permitted to carry messages out 
for them. Final arrangements for their release were made on July 16 

and 17. 

Ordinarily, in the highly organized and complex modern world, the 
Red Cross of one country helps that of another by sending contribu- 
tions in money or supplies. In the postwar years this was the usual 
form of sisterly society aid given by the American Red Cross as vari- 
ous disasters struck around the world. Likewise, at the time of moiC 
spectacular disasters in the United States large contributions have 
come from other lands, including Russia. 

There are, at this writing, approximately eighty national Red Cross 
Societies, including highly organized and efficient ones in such Iron 
Curtain countries as the Soviet Union itself and East Germany. These 
differ in some degree, however, from the American Red Cross, usually 
-as also is the case in some western European counlries--in that 
often they receive government subsidies and in effect are hired for 
such duties as hospital operation, clinical work or ambulance service. 

In October, 1956, there occurred a mustering without prece en. o 
the Red Cross societies of the free world to respond to the catastrophe 
that struck civilians in Hungary as a result of the abortive re^olu ion 
finally suppressed by Russian troops. In this work, ty two 
societies participated, definitely establishing the line o 
isting betLn the Red Cross as it lives in the hearts 
people, who rushed to help, and the Red Cross as rt ,s duected by 

Co mmu nist political masters. 

27 « 

Roll CAll AT 75 

The Hungarian revolution and subsequent massacre resulted in 
chaos within Hungary and the flight of thousands of refugees into 
Austria. Of these, some thousands were admitted to the United States 
by government action, flown in military planes from Europe to Camp 
Kilmer, New Jersey. 

Here was an historic example of the American Red Cross being on 
the job as one among many members of the International League of 
Red Cross Societies. Furthermore, it was a notable case in which only 
a fraction of the costs was paid by Americans. 

The Hungarian refugee program cost in its first year approximately 
$30,000,000 in supplies and service. From the United States went $5,- 
000,000, substantially the amount contributed for this special cause 
by individuals; it was not charged against Red Cross general funds. 

At the peak of the refugee operations, forty-four camps for escapees 
were being operated in Austria. For a while motor convoys traveling 
under Red Cross flags were able to carry food and medicines for distri- 
bution by Red Cross representatives exclusively to the aged, the ill, 
and children in Budapest. 

Of the forty-four camps, six were operated by American Red Cross 
workers. And when the dazed refugees came to Camp Kilmer as a 
stopover in their resettlement, 108 Red Cross staff workers and 1,630 
volunteers from surrounding chapters took care of them. 


When the Junior Red Cross was conceived in World War I as a means 
of inculcating patriotic concepts in school children, a seed was planted 
that blossomed into a fantastic national program. 

While not in all schools, the Junior Red Cross forty years later had 
67,300 elementary schools enrolled and 36,100 others in which pupils 
participated in programs without enrollment. 

The enrolled schools account for the 20,000,000 or more Junior 
Red Cross members — a fraternity within the adult group with its own 
small dues, its own segregation of funds and its own international pro- 
gram. Here is the area in which, under the guidance of teachers who 
themselves are Red Cross volunteers, children receive aid and instruc- 
tion in the highly civilized training of “people helping people.” The 

roll call at 75 


pennies and dimes of the enrolled juniors amount to a working fund 
of approximately a, quarter million dollars a year. 

What do they do? They are truly the “junior” Red Cross. 

Homebound and hospitalized children regularly receive surprise 
visits and gifts from the juniors in their communities, and 400,000 
gift boxes, packed by American children, went to children in other 
lands as a neighborly gesture in 1956. Tn the name of the Junior Red 
Cross, 100 chests — each complete with equipment and supplies for 
a classroom — were sent to South Korea. 

After the outpouring of refugees from Hungary in 1956 and 1957, 
American youth spoke through gifts to the helpless victims of that 
event. Here is one example; 

One day before Christmas, 1956, a truck bumped down the sno'v- 
covered highway skirting Salzburg, Austria, and swung through the 
gates of Camp Siezenheim, a onetime military post turned into a center 
to house Hungarian refugees pouring across- the Austro-Hungarian 

Siezenheim was the first stop on a Christmas mission that was to 
take this truck ranging from one end of Austria to the other to bring 
some measure of holiday happiness to the bewildered children who 
had fled to a new world with their parents. 

Nickmrmed the “Toymobile,” the truck was packed with dolls, 
games, rocking horses and other precious items that were to bring 
shouts of delight from many a youngster who had feared St. Nicholas 
would never find him. 

The Toymobile was only one example among many Junior Red 
Cross ventures that lightened the lot of the Hungarian youngsters 
caught up in a situation they could not control, and which few could 
comprehend. In all, American juniors furnished supplies valued at 
$155,200 for distribution to these young people. 

Paintings from classroom work, and “correspondence books” made 
up of letters written by the children, go in constant rounds between 
American and foreign schools, so that children may learn to communi- 
cate with each other in their own terms. 

As rewards, and for development of leaders in the lower teen-age 
brackets, the Red Cross has sent junior members to overseas training 
centers in Japan, Germany, England and the Netherlands, and re- 
ceived juniors for comparable studies in the United States. 



In the last recorded year ice was broken for even more advanced 
development of Junior Red Cross leadership. An jinternational study 
center was established at Hood College, in Maryland. At this center, 
during the summer holiday, fifty-nine American Junior Red Cross 
members chosen by selection from widely scattered chapters met with 
young persons from eleven foreign Red Cross Societies to discuss in 
their own terms the problems of living together and working together 
in the modern world. 


Truly, after seventy-five years, the Red Cross is “many things to many 

Yet, after wading through the years of development, sampling the 
mountains of statistics, and peering alike at the highlights and the 
depressed periods, one may ask, “What is the Red Cross in the life of 
modern America? Is it truly vital?” 

That is a valid question in an era of all-embracing government 
activity, of streamlined scientific development and a general attitude 
of acceptance of public welfare as the responsibility of tax-supported 

One answer certainly lies in the stability and virility of- the Red 
Cross as it exists well past the middle of the twentieth century. An- 
other lies in the character of its support, both by money contributions 
and by people as volunteers. And that answer is found in the com- 
munity rather than in Washington or its regional branches. 

There was a time when the Red Cross volunteer fitted one of two 
categories: either he was an individual of wealth and community 
leadership by family or environment who adopted the Red Cross as a 
cause; or he was one of the mass who rallied to help when called upon 
in time of emergency or war but then went back to his or her (usually 
her) own responsibilities. 

Today that picture has changed, and the change is permanent. 
There are many manifestations of this change. 

For one thing, about 20 per cent of the financial support of the Red 
Cross comes from industries and businesses of all sizes that support it 
because these business leaders see it earning its keep in community 
service. They realize the continuing need for a national organization 



that ties together rather than competes with thousands of other 

The Red Cross volunteer today is the typical community worker 
and leader — the individual willing to give countless hours to the busi- 
ness of human relations as well as to personal services. No longer 
could the Red Cross be called by its severest critic a “sewing circle.” 
There are a few communities where the chapter still is the stronghold 
of a hereditary or self-appointed group. But these are becorung rare. 
The Red Cross Chapter Board of Directors in a typical city is made up 
of businessmen, bankers, real estate agents and storekeepers and their 
wives. Seldom is such a board a self-perpetuating group. In more and 
more communities special efforts are made to bring in what once were 
called minority groups, with the realization that no one is a minority 
as a citizen-individual. 

There are big jobs and big responsibilities in the Red Cross, and 
people big in experience must fill them. 

It may even be a healthy thing that the Red Cross has had to use its 
available cash reserves, and that its endowments yield such a small 
fraction of the income necessary to do its job that it could not in the 
foreseeable future survive without regular appeals for public support. 
This keeps the Red Cross lean and trim. It helps to prevent the de- 
velopment of sluggish self-satisfaction and the temptation to perpetu- 
ate itself simply for organization’s sake. 

The Red Cross undeniably does have problems in justifying itself, 
its costs, and the services that are so blended v'ith the community life 
of America that they are taken for granted. No longer does it stand 
out, as in the days when service groups could be counted on the fingers 
of one hand. The Red Cross is not spectacular: in fact, its role of 
leader rather than monopolist has encouraged development of many 
other groups who sometimes appear to be its competitors in appeals 
for public support. 

Never have Americans been asked to support so many types of 
welfare work or special study groups. In the roll of organizations with 
their own merits, and far more spectacular achievements, the founda- 
tions engaged in specific health research — heart, cancer , mental health, 
et cetera ad infinitum — are better known to many individuals than is 
the Red Cross. 

What is seldom seen is the cooperation the Red Cross is able to 



give to these organizations, without fanfare, simply because it is what 

•a • 

It IS. 

This assistance takes form in a thousand ways, from the provision 
of blood for research work to the members of the Motor Corps who 
regularly drive the cars that carry crippled children on outings. Red 
Cross chapters frequently have the only permanently organized head- 
quarters available for special help to community organizations. 

More important, it seems clear now that the Red Cross stands as a 
foremost example of the fact that, in a humane, civilized society, 
government never can do everything, radical opinion to the contrary. 
Americans are determined in their desire to help themselves and 
others, as individuals, as free people. 

The Red Cross as we know it was born because of recognition of 
that fact in the American Amendment adopted so long ago. It will 
stand just as long, and only as long, as this is the American attitude. 

There was more than rhetoric in the words written by Red Cross 
Volunteer Number One, Chairman E. Roland Harriman, at the lowest 
ebb of the Red Cross’s financial picture after the drains of service in 
1956 : 

“The Red Cross enters the new year with spirit and determination 
and remains steadfast in its concern for the nation’s well being. With 
God’s help and faith in the future, the Red Cross will carry on>’’ 

And so it is. 

roil call at 75 



One who attempts to summarize the history of an organization as 
diverse, widespread and multi-faceted as the Red Cross obviously 
undertakes a job beyond the scope of any individual. Proper research, 
or even the attempt to place events and developments in perspective, 
requires the assistance and guidance of many others. 

For research assistance, a deep bow to the Historical Section of the 
Red Cross, and to Dr. Foster Rhea Dulles, professor of history at the 
University of Ohio, who undertook after World War II the task of 
preparing for the Red Cross a definitive and highly detailed history of 
its work. Assisted by as many as forty persons in these researches. Dr. 
Dulles produced a monumental documented story of the Red Cross. 
For the serious researcher this work is unparalleled, and no attempt 
has been made to duplicate it. 

Rechecking of the facts set down in this work was meticulously 
done by Clyde E. Buckingham and Miss Olivette Suttles, of the Red 
Cross staff. 

Otherwise this Compact History, financed entirely by the publisher, 
is a look at the Red Cross and its place as an American expression of 
awareness of man’s responsibility to his neighbor, in peacetime and in 

In organization and writing of this work the author is also indebted 
to many persons other than those who can be named here. For four 
years Chairman Harriman has extended his confidence and coopera- 
tion, including the privilege of attending many meetings of the Board 
of Governors, visits to all the regional offices (Alexandria, Virginia; 
St. Louis, Missouri; Atlanta, Georgia; and San Francisco, California) 
and to many chapters. 

Likewise confidence and friendly cooperation have been extended 
by the two presidents of the Red Cross in recent years. Ambassador 
Ellsworth Bunker and General Alfred M. Gruenther. 

Ramone S. Eaton, vice president of the Red Cross, under whose 
jurisdiction are responsibilities for public information and fund-rais- 
ing, and educational relations, among others, has been a constant 
collaborator in studies, together with his principal assistant, Harry 
Martin, director of the Office of Public Information. 


toil CALL AT 75 

Linking the records of the past with personal recollections have 
been many others: notably James T. Nicholson, retired executive vice 
president; Fred Winfrey, recently retired senior vice’ president; John E. 
Wilson, vice president; and DeWitt Smith, recently retired vice presi- 

Among the governors to whom special indebtedness is felt for as- 
sistance and guidance in learning something of the Red Cross from 
the viewpoint of the longtime volunteer must be included Miss 
Margaret Hickey, public affairs editor of the Ladies Home Journal; 
John Sinclair, president of the National Industrial Conference Board 
and recent chairman of the New York Chapter; Joseph R. Stewart, 
attorney, of Kansas City, Missouri; Cornelius T. Dalton, of the Louis- 
ville (Kentucky) Courier- Journal and Times; and W. Croft Jennings, 
attorney, of Columbia, South Carolina. 




The American Red Cross is a nationwide voluntary organization through which 
all people may serve in the American tradition of neighbor helping neighbor. 

Organized under the Congress and directed by a board broadly leprcscntative 
of the people and the government, the work of the Red Cross is performed by 
over two million volunteers and a small staff, serving across the nation and 

Under federal laws and regulations, the Red Cross provides emergency relief 
for disaster victims and needed assistance in restoring tl-' m ^o normal living, 
gives personal assistance to men of the military services as a volunteer auxiliary 
between members of the armed forces and their families, fulfills America’s ob- 
ligations under certain international treaties and, along with seventy-nine other 
Red Cross societies, conducts an international relief program. 

To perform these and other functions designed to prevent or alleviate suffer- 
ing caused by family, community, national, or international emergencies, the 
Red Cross carries on a total of ten service programs. The Red C'ross is a mem- 
bership organization deriving its support from over forty .million adult and junior 















































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Red Cross, The Story Of Warm-Hearted Volunteers 

The story of the American Red Cross from its very beginning is a story of 
warm-hearted volunteers bringing together their skilled hands, their time and 
their energies in services as varied as human needs. Chairman Harriman, him- 
self a volunteer, has said, “In many people doing what any one of us would do 
for a neighbor lies the thoroughly human story of the Red Cross.” 

The multitudes of Red Cross volunteers come from every walk of life and 
give joint expression to the great human impulse to help those in need. Their 
continued, generous, loyal, and dedicated participation makes real the fulfillment 
of the charter obligations of the American Red Cross, and gives to the organiza- 
tion a decisive endorsement and a clear continuance of the mandate that Red 
Cross services must be available whenever and wherever they are needed. The 
estimated hours served by volunteers from 1917 through 1955 arc the equivalent 
of a staff of 50,000 full-time workers serving continuously during these 39 years. 
These volunteers serve as officers, committee members, and consultants, at na- 
tional, area, and chapter levels; as instructors of Red Cross training courses in 
health and safety services; as Junior Red Cross teacher-sponsors; at first-aid 
stations, with detachments, and mobile units; in blood collection programs; as 
speakers and fund campaign workers; as Service Groups workers, and in 
numerous other capacities essential in policy-making, administration, an^ opera- 
tion of the organization. 

Volunteers and paid staff alike respond in larger numbers during war years. 
The highest count of volunteers serving during a single year was the 8,200,000 
active during 1918-19, the last year of World War I. The next highest count was 
the 7,500,000 serving during 1944-45, the last year of World War II. During 
each World War the same average number of volunteers, some 4,000,000 served 
each year. Since 1917-18, an annual average of more than 1,500,000 volunteers 
have served each year — a count which is more than 1 50 times the average count 
of total paid workers on duty each year. 

Conspicuous among the volunteers working in various capacities is the average 
of nearly 882,000, who have served so generously each year since 1917-1 8 in the 
Service Groups activities. The volunteer hours given by these workers were first 
reported in 1932-33. Since then more than 1,128,000,000 volunteer hours have 
been given by this segment of workers in service to members of the armed 
forces, veterans, disaster victims, and various other fellow Americans. These 
total hours constitute the equivalent of approximately 65 times the number of 
hours that have transpired since the birth of Christ. During each year of this 
period, these Service Groups volunteers have given an average of 50,000,000 
hours of service, or more than three times the hours spent by the average count 
of total paid workers serving Red Cross each year. 


Some Of These Volunteers Provide 
Service Groups Activities 

Among Red Cross volunteers, described by General George C. Marshall is 
‘ the life blood of the American Red Cross,” is that group of workers performing 
the Service Groups activities. These organized services are currently known as 
Arts and l^ills. Canteen, Entertainment and Supply, Gray Lady, Motor, Pro- 
duction, Social Welfare Aide, Staff Aide, and Volunteer Nurse’s Aide. Dis- 
continued services include Braille, Canteen Aide, and Dietitian’s \ide. During 
World War I, as many as 8,000,000 volunteers performed these activities in a 
single year, most of them engaged in production. The peak annual count par- 
ticipating in World War 11 was 4,000,000 during 1942-43, a major portion of 
them also engaged in production activities. 

Statistics tell a very incomplete story of the incalculable services performed 
by these workers; however, figures do serve to a limited degree to highlight the 
measure of volunteer participation recorded for Service Groups workers. The 
resume of such participation is as follows according to the chronological se- 
quence of the oiganization on a national scale of the varioas Service Groups. 

(Organized 1916) 

Production Service was organized initially, under the direction of the 
Women’s Bureau, to make surgical dressings, hospital garments, and clothing for 
war victims in other countries during World War 1. Upon request of the Army 
and Navy, the group also make supplementary comfort supplies for scrvicenren. 
rhe year of peak activity was 1942-43, when more tfian 3,500,000 gave a grand 
total of ^20,000,000 hours of service. 

As an average each year, more than 728,000 workers have giver_ over 37,- 
000,000 hours. Since World War 1, these volunteers have produced 3,000,000,- 
000 surgical dressings, thousands of them complicated sewed dressings, such as 
T-binders, face masks, and scultctus binders; also 160,000,000 knitted and sewed 
garments, among them more th “i 10,000,000 sweaters for American and Allied 
servicemen during World War ^ and World War II. Kit bags containing com- 
fort articles for servicemen here and overseas totaled 17,000,000 during both 
World Wars. 

The estimated grand total value of chapter production during World War I 
and World War II amounted to approxim Uely $200,000,000. Production volun- 
teers during other than war years are busily engaged in peacetime pr^rc. action 
activities in keeping with local aii ^ *.ational needs. 

(Organized 1917) 

Canteen Service. Few Red Cross services have done more to boost the 
morale of the disaster victim and the man in uniform than the Canteen Service. 
During late 1917 khaki-clad women and girls, engaged in one of the most 
familiar of all Red Cross activities on the home front, were busy handing out 
cups of coffee, sandwiches, doughnuts, chocolate bars, and cigarettes. Some 


55.000 women were taking part in this work when World War I ended, and 
during the two-year period had made a grand total of 40,000,000 servings. 

Total servings to date approximate 185,000,000, including 121,000,000 dur- 
ing World War 11. As an average each year, more than 21,000 volunteer canteen 
workers have provided canteen services and have given to their tasks, since 
1932, over 33,000,000 volunteer hours, or an annual average of 1,500,000 hours. 
The year of peak activity was 1942-43, when nearly 106,000 canteen workers 
gave 5,400,000 hours of volunteer service. 

(Organized 1918) 

Motor Service. Workers drive their own cars, or chapter-owned cars, in pro- 
viding transportation essential in the performince of Red Cross activities, such 
as services to hospitalized servicemen and veterans and their families; to able- 
bodied servicemen and their families; to patients of free clinics and children’s 
and other civilian hospitals on medical visits and outings; in providing disaster 
relief; in the collection and distribution of blood; and in numerous other chapter 

As an average each year, 1 1 ,000 volunteer workers spend a total of 1 ,700,000 
hours while driving some 10,000,000 miles. During the 1942-43 year of peak 
activity 45,000 Motor Service volunteers gave more than 6,500,000 hours of 

Gray Lady Service. This group was originally organized as the Hospital and 
Recreation Corps to provide Red Cross services in the convalescent quarters of 
military hospitals. These volunteers now provide friendly, personal, and recre- 
ational services to hospitalized servicemen and veterans, to patients in civilian 
hospitals, to the aged, and to children in homes and institutions; and in numerous 
ways help the more or less disabled persons to live as fully and happily as pos- 

During 1944-45, the year of peak activity, some 50,000 Gray Ladies gave 

6.400.000 volunteer hours of service. As an annual average 19,000 volunteers 
spend 2,100,000 hours providing the individual and group services given by these 

Volunteer Nurse’s Aide Service. Once known as health aides, this group 
does just what their current name suggests — they assist nurses by performing 
authorized services in Veterans Administration and military hospitals, clinics, 
public health agencies, civilian hospitals, community agencies, and blood donor 

Emergencies of war and disaster increase the need for these trained volun- 
teers who during the 1944-45 year of peak activity numbered more than 1 10,000 
and gave some 15,000,000 hours of service. These volunteers, since 1932, have 
served a grand total of 54,000,000 hours. This is equivalent to 18,500 persons 
working 8 hours per day throughout an entire year. As an average, more than 

17.000 volunteer nurse’s aides give 2,300,000 hours of service each year. 

(Organized 1921) 

Braille Corps. Once organized as a national program, the activities of braille 
transcription continued through 1942, at which time technological and com- 


mercial developments reduced the general need for this highly specialized volun- 
teer service. During the 21 years of national activity, an average of 1,600 vol- 
unteers spent 87,00Q hours each year transcribing braille. During this period, 
they transcribed a grand total of 6,000,000 pages for benefit of the blind. 

(Organized 1922) 

In this year, three Services were organized nationally to meet needs for addi- 
tional volunteer assistance in the conduct of Red Cross chapter programs in the 
communities, at Veterans Administration and military hospitals, and at military 

Administration Service was organized to assume responsibility for the di- 
rection of the expanding program of specialized volunteer services. An annual 
average of 8,000 volunteers have spent well over 1 .000,000 hours performing 
such administrative tasks. 

Social Welfare Aide Service, formerly Home Service Corps, has brought 
together a group of workers able and interested in performing family welfare 
services, through chapter Home Service, mainly to servicemen, veterans, and 
their dependents. As many as 16,000 such volunteers have m a single year given 
over 2,000,000 hours providing these family welfare services. The annual av- 
erage shows 7,500 workers giving 773,000 hours to these community as- 

V Staff Aide Service, previously Staft Assistance Corps, has given invaluable 
assistance through a multiplicity of oflice assignments in virtually every phase of 
the Red Cross program. Their secretarial abilities and business training equip 
them to provide able assistance particularly during such emergency periods as 
war and disaster. Typical of their fine response is the fact that an average of 
23,000 workers give 2,000,000 volunteer hours each year assisting in the chap- 
ters and in the communities upon assignment by the chapters. In 1943—44, the 
year of peak activity, these volunteers numbered more than 128,000 and gave 
more than 8,000,000 b.'urs of service, equivalent to the full time spent in a year 
by a paid staff numbering 5,000. 

(Organized 1942-1947) 

During this period, the vastly increased number of hospitalized servicemen 
and veterans created new and pressing demands for Red Cross services. To meet 
certain of these needs, largely in those fields handicapped through wartime emer- 
gencies by the shortage of professional paid personnel. Red Cross provided 
volunteer assistance through the national organization of two new Vv'luntcer 
Service Groups — Canteen Aides, organized in 1942, and Dietitian s Aides, in 
1943. After relatively few years, with the decline of wartime emergencies, both 
Services were discontinued. 

Also during this period, two other Services were given revised functions and 
new titles: Arts and Skills in 1944, and Entertainment and Instruction in 
1947. The latter Service was further reorganized in 1952 and given its current 
title of Entertainment and Supply Service. In the main, volunteers in these 
Services provided such recreational and instructional supplies and services to 
hospitalized servicemen and veterans as were not immediately available ^o them 


through government-financed channels. In recent years, these services have been 
extended, along with other Red Cross services, to the aged, the handicapped, 
children in homes, institutions, and hospitals, and patient&in civilian hospitals, 
including mental hospitals. 

Workers in Arts and Skills Service and in Entertainment and Supply Service 
have given since their respective organizations a combined grand total of nearly 
9,000,000 hours of service. The volunteers giving these services each year av- 
erage 3,400 in Arts and Skills Service and 38,000 in Entertainment and Supply 

Volunteers Meet Spectacular Needs 
for Red Cross Service 

Worthy of special mention are the occasions when Red Cross volunteers 
respond, with outstanding services, in areas of great need. A spectacular ex- 
ample of an occasional need is that which, during World War IT, created the 
prisoner-of-war-packaging project. This service was given by volunteers in 5 
selected centers during the years 1942-45. Throughout this period a grand total 
of nearly 2,000,000 hours was given by an annual average of 13,500 volunteers, 
in the Brooklyn, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis chapters, who 
meticuously filled, in assembly-line fashion, more than 27,000,000 prisoner-of- 
war packages for American and Allied prisoners in Europe and the Far East. 

The more common spectacular need is during a disaster emergency. Obviously 
the stress of the emergency makes quite insignificant any effort to count the 
volunteers who respond in large numbers when disaster strikes. The record, 
therefore, of these selfless volunteers — some working the uncommon stretch of 
48 hours without rest or sleep; others continuing for 72 hours with no thought 
of self, reluctant to stop or to give way to replacements — is written only in the 
memories of the persons they helped. The trained Red Cross specialists ifi charge 
of disaster relief operations agree that “When disaster strikes the problem is not 
that of getting volunteers to work but is that of getting volunteers to stop 

So it is that since 1881, endless individual records of heroism, self sacrifice, 
and untiring service of volunteers continue to tell the great humanitarian story 
of the American Red Cross. Volunteers through their Red Cross typify the great 
heart of America. 

Accident prevention, 258 
Alcott, Louisa May, 33 
Ainsworth, Fred C,, 110 
Ambulance units, 164, 170-171, 223 
American Amendment, 55, 56, 76, 
132, 280 

American Association for Relief of 
the Misery of the Battlefields, 

American Board of Foreign Missions, 

American Expeditionary Forces, 164, 
165, 167, 170 

American Federation Labor, 255 
American Library Association, 147 
American National Red Cross: 
administrative service, 200, 29 1 
advisory committee on organiza- 
tion, 253 

articles of incorporation, 103-104 
arts and skills service, 289, 291, 

audits, 118, 126, 153, 216 
auxiliaries, 91, 93, 149, 150 
Barton thesis, 50 
board of consultation, 109 
board of control, 107 
board of directors, 107, 108, 254 
board of governors, 254, 281, 287 
board of incorporators, 112, 115, 
125, 252, 253 

bureau of special relief, 118 

camp service, J55, 159, 198 
canteen aides, 789, 291 
canteen corps, 93, 157, 257 
canteen; service, 155-157, 158, 169- 
170, 181, 200, 289-290 
care of the sick service, 2i2 
central committee, 105, 111, 112, 
115, 117, 120, 125, 140, 143, 
145, 178, 181, 183, 189, 191, 
197, 207, 212-213, 217, 218, 
226, 227, 252-253, 287 
charters, 55, 57, 79, 142, 145, 205, 
216, 226, 252 

civilian home service, 181, 199 
club and canteen services, 234 
commission to France, 165 
committee on maintenance of 
trained nurses, 92, 94 
conventions, 252 

criticisms, 157, 163, 178, 182-183, 
201, 212, 219, 24^-246, 248, 

payments for blood, 27 1 
payments for services, 154, 157, 

department of health, 181 
diamond jubilee, 263 
enteitainment and instruction, 291 
entertainment and supply service, 
289, 291, 292 

executive committee, 93, 109, 115, 
H5, 189, 253 




American National Red Cross [cont.): 
field service, 233 
first aid department, 131 
first aid service, 199-200, 212 
“great debate of 1922,” 190-191 
headquarters, 69, 83, 105, 125, 
140, 143, 146, 150, 180, 181, 
192, 193, 196, 204, 210, 211, 
235, 256, 274 
historical section, 28 1 
internal revolt, 104-105, 107-108 
leadership, 52, 82, 143, 144-146, 
178, 182, 188, 194-195, 212- 
213, 215, 219, 232-233, 248, 

medical health and advisory com- 
mittee, 235 

membership, 116, 120, 121, 132, 
152, 195, 231, 251, 257-258 
mismanagement, 183 
national advisory committee, 225 
national committee on nursing serv- 
ice, 130, 134 
national staff council, 1 84 
nutrition service, 1 87 
officers, principal (table), 286-287 
organization, 47, 57, 63, 67, 78-79, 
82, 88-89, 90, 91, 111, 115, 
120-121, 125, 142-143, 144, 
145, 149-151, 155, 159, 178, 
184, 192, 210-211, 231-233, 
243, 252, 255, 285 
local (see under Chapters) 
origin, 40-42, 45^6, 58, 92 
personnel, 53-56, 91, 142, 143, 
158, 196, 212, 226, 232, 243- 
247, 267 

casualties, 246-247 
paid, 69, 155, 184, 247, 264, 288 
prisoner of war service, 234 
production service, 289 
public, 120, 132, 195, 207, 215, 
219-220, 231, 255-256 
public investigation, 109-110, 183 
public relations, 127-128, 180 
purpose, 46, 49, 53, 55-56, 61-63, 
64, 93, 103-104, 111, 133, 
142, 168, 182, 189, 191, 203, 
215-216, 253-254, 285 

service groups, 288, 289 
sewing circles, 150, 153, 279 
social agenciesf cooperation, 128, 
142, 235, 279-280 
titular heads (table), 286-287 
U.S. government, 210-211, 215- 
219, 220 

War council, 145, 146, 165, 177, 
178, 207, 225, 287 
(see also Chapters and Junior Red 

American Red Cross in the Great 
War, The, 159-160 
American Sanitary Commission, 17 
American Woman Suffrage Associa- 
tion, 110 

Andersonville prison, 31-32, 234 
Andrea Doria disaster. 273 
Andrew, John A., 28 
Anthony, Susan B., 33, 1 10 
Appia, Louis, 15, 36, 37, 38, 39, 78 
Archangel, 172 
Arkansas, 207 

Red Cross State Association, 150 
Armenia, 7 1 

relief of 1896, 64,71-72, 82 
Armenian Relief Committee, 7 1 
Armistice of 1918, 169, 172, 175, 177 
Arthur, Chester A., 47, 48 
Associated Press, 47, 63 
Atlanta, 281 

Red Cross chapter. 1 5 1 
Augusta Red Cross chapter, 234 
Australia, 230, 242 
Austria, 141, 276, 277 
Austria-Hungary, 140 

Baden, Grand Duchess of, 37-38, 39, 
72-73, 79-80, 83 
Baden, Grand Duke of, 38, 39 
Baker, Newton D., 144 
Barker, Abby, 55 
Barnum, P. T., 81 

Barton, Clarissa (Clara) Harlow, 13, 
21, 22. 51, 56. 61. 64. 71, 94, 
115, 118, 119, 129, 130, 131, 
132, 133, 139, 142, 146, 149, 
164, 197, 260, 286, 287 



American National Red Cross, 45- 

chapter functicn, 149 
internal revolt, 104-105, 107- 

leadership, 88-89, 95, 104, 107- 
108, 109 

and national charter, 58, 79, 104 
resignation, 1 1 1 
Andersonville prison, 31-32 
“angel of the battlefield,” 23, 29, 
33, 35 

“angel of mercy,” 33 
Armenian relief, 71-72 
bureau of missing persons, 31-33 
career, early, 23-26, 76 
character, 140 
childhood, 22-23 

and Civil War, 17, 23, 26. 27-30, 

criticism of, 69, 72-73, 104-105, 

Cuban relief work, 88-90, 100 
“daughter of the regiment,” 33 
death, 1 12 

decorations, 77, 81-82 
“Florence Nightingale of America, 
.The,” 33 

Franco-Prussian war, 37-39 
health, 25, 33, 36, 37, ^9, 67, 76, 

public relations, 75-84 
Red Cross, 30, 35, 36, 38, 40 
on purpose, 45 

representative, 40-42, 46, 75-77, 
79, 80. 82-83, 150 
sanitary commission 35-36 
as speaker, 28, 31, 32-33 
Barton, Stephen (brother), 30 
Barton, Stephen (father), 22, 27 
Barton, Mrs. Stephen, 22 
Barton, Stephen (nephew), 55, 72, 
79, 88, 91. 93, 104, 112 
Barton, William E., 48 
Bataan, 230, 234, 241 
Belgium, 17, 131, 140, 222 
Bellows. Henry W., 18, 35, 40 
Belo, A. H., 78 
Bernhardt, Sarah, 82 

Bicknell, Ernest, 117, 118, 122, 125, 
126, 127, 128, 129, 132, 133, 
135, 142, 150, 179, 188, 190 
Birmingham Red Cross chapter, 210, 

Bissell, Emily, 126 
Bismarck, Count, 38, 80 
Bismarck, Countess, 38 
Black market, 1 54 
Blaine, James G., 41, A1 
Bliss, Cornelius N., 232 
Blood program, 234-23 7, 258, 264, 
civilian, 248 
collection of, 290 
color line controversy, 236-237 
donor centers, 235, 290 
donors, 234 
donor services, 235 
Blood service, 234 

Blood Transfusion Betterment Asso- 
ciation, 235 

Boardman, Mabel, 105, 109, 111, 
115, 120. 121, 122, 125, 126, 
127 129, 132, 133, 1.^9, 140. 
143. 146, 178, 189, 190, 191, 
192, 197, 200 
on chapter function. 149 
on leadership, 107-108 
on Red Cross purpose, 1 16 
Boardman, William Jarvis, IC5, 127 
Bolshevik Revolution, 171 
Boston, 32, 82, 9% 

Red Cross chapter, 150, 193 
Bowles, Charles S., 17 
Boynton, N. V., 79 
Boy Scouts, 52, 132. 199 
Praille corps, 290-291 
Bridgeport, Conn., 146 
Red C ross chapter, 1 5 1 
Britain {see England) 

British Red Cross, 221 

Brooklyn Red Cross chapter, l51, 193 

Brown. John, 77 

Brown, R. G., 82 {see also L. Hall) 
Buchanan, James, 26 
Buckingham, Clyde E., 281 
Budapest, 73, 276 

Buford, S. C. Red Cross chapter, 193 



Bull Run, first battle of, 27 
Bunker, Ellsworth, 254, 281, 287 
Bureau of Missing Persons, 32 
Bureau of Special Relief, 118 
Burlington, Iowa, Red Cross chapter, 

Burma, 240 

Burnside, General, 28, 38 

Caledonia, 33 
California, 92, 281 

Red Cross State Association, 91, 
93, 150 

Camp Dodge, 159, 276, 277 
Camp Kilmer, 276 
Camp Siezenhcim, 277 
Canteens, 155, 156, 164, 166, 169, 
229, 255, 289 
Caporetto, 164, 170 
Caribbean hurricane (1928), 197-198 
Carleton, Will, 81 
Casualties, 157 
Civil War, 31 
identification badge, 94 
Korean War, 247 
Red Cross, 246-247 
Catholic Church, 219 
Cott, Carrie Chapman, 1 10 
Central Cuban Relief Committee, 88, 

Chamber of Commerce, N.Y., 88, 91 
Charity Organization Society of N.Y., 

Chapters (Red Cross), 57, 93, 128, 
131, 133, 142, 143, 145, 190, 
191, 198, 204, 209, 216, 217, 
231, 233, 252, 255, 280 
activities, 134, 149, 152, 157-158, 
180, 181, 190-195, 198-201, 
224, 242 

Barton conception, 149 
Boardman conception, 149 
blood program, 235, 271-272 
convention of 1922, 190-191 
depression of 1929, 203-213 
leadership, 260, 278-279 
membership, 192, 264 
and National Headquarters, 191- 
195, 206 

organization, 62, 149-151, 190, 279 
origin, 149 

{see also iinrfer.Name of City) 
Cherry, III., mine explosion, 135-136 
Chester, Colby M., 232 
Chicago, 111., 52, 117, 134, 187, 292 
Red Cross chapter, 151-152 
Chicago Inter Ocean, 66, 111 
Chicago Tribune, 207 
Children, 171, 199, 208, 218, 222, 
229, 276, 277, 280, 290, 292 
Childs, Annie, 76 

China, 139, 215, 216, 219, 222, 242, 
243, 244 

Christian Herald, 88 
Christian Scientists, 1 97 
Christmas seals, 126-127, 149, 179 
Cincinnati, Ohio, 64, 65, 76, 134 
Civil Defense (U.S.), 224, 229, 258, 
264, 269 

Civilian Defense (British), Women’s 
Voluntary Services, 222 
Civil War, 13, 16, 22, 26, 70-71, 78, 
80, 92, 97, 142, 164, 234 
casualties, 31 
medical care, 16 

Cleveland, Grover S., 70, 77, 78, 92, 

Cleveland, Ohio, 134 
Cleveland Associated Charities, 128 
Collyer, Robert, 8 1 
Cott, S. Sloan, 225, 233 
Columbia, District of, 47, 55, 57, 79, 

Columbia University, 179 
Communism, 171, 183, 212, 220 
Community Chests, 226, 232 
Concentration camps, 87, 89, 240 
Conger, Omer D., 79 
Congress of Industrial Organizations, 

Connecticut, 146, 151 

Red Cross State Association, 150 
Contributions {see under Funds) 
Convention of Geneva {see Geneva 

Coolidge, Calvin, 287 
Cooperating community groups {see 



Cornell University. 178, 184 
Courtelyou, George B., 109 
Cowles, Anna Roose,velt, 108, 1 16 
Cuba, 68, 84, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93, 
95, 99, 108, 164, 246 

Dallas, 78 

Red Cross chapter, 1 5 1 
Dallas Morning News, 78 
Dalton, Cornelius T., 282 
Dana, Charles A., 47 
Dansville, N.Y., 39, 48, 62, 77 
Red Cross chapter, 57, 149 
Daughters of the American Revolu- 
tion, 94 

Davison, Henry P., 127, 144, 145- 
146, 159, 165, 176, 177, 178, 
207, 225, 287 

Davis, George W., 115, 286 
Davis, Norman H., 215, 221, 224, 
227, 229, 231, 248, 287 
Dayton, Ohio, 1 34 
Defense Department (U.S.), 266 
de Forest, Robert W., 125. 189 
Delano, Jane, 68, 130, 131 
Delaware Red Cross chapter, 1 26 
Denmark, 17, 126 
Denver, 94 

Depre^ions, 195, 203-213, 269 
Detroit, 62, 1 34, 1 5 1 
Red Cross chapter, IjI 
Devine, Edward T., 117 
Dewey, Admiral George, 99 
Dietitians’ aide, 289, 291 
Disabled veterans, 191, 198, 257 
Disasters, natural, 45, 50, 55, 57, 180, 
191, 192, 195, 197-198, 204, 
258, 259-260, 264 
costs, 268 

government aid, 259 
nature of, 62-63 
1945-1946, 259 
1955-1958, 268 
number, 1921-1940, 196 
nurses, 129-131 
volunteers, 292 

Disaster work, 53, 55, 64-66, 68-70, 
116, 133, 142, 164, 197, 205, 
212, 263, 267, 270, 290 

loans, 119 

personal kit, 128-129 
planning, 268-269 
{see also under Name of Disaster) 
Displaced persons, 166-167, 257, 290 
Dix, Dorothea, 35 
Dodge, Cleveland H., 104, 144, 145 
Draft (1940), 222 
Drought relief, 206, 208, 209 
Drought of 1929, 205-20 
Drummond, Roscoe, 264 
Dufour, Guillaume, 15 
Dulles, Foster Rhea. 70, 1 79, 28 1 
Dunant, Jc.^n Henri, 13, 14, 15, 170 
Dunn, James L., 29 
Dwight, Edmund, 39 

Earthquakes, 50, 51, 142 
East Berlin, 275 

East Coast hurricane (1938), 198 
East Gcrn.aa Red Cross, 275 
East Germany, 275 
Eaton. Ramonc S., 281 
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 235, 260, 287 
El Caney, 97, 99, 246 
El Paso Red Cross chapter, 151 
Elwcll, J. K.. 88 

England, 39, 50, 72, 79, 140-141, 
169, 222, 245, 277 
Equal Rights movement, 33 
Eric Dispatch, 66 

Europe. 13, 15, 75. 139, 141, 163, 
164, 170, i76, 221, 242, 292 
eastern, 172 
in 19t’' centurv, 14 
occupied, 222 
Red Cross, 122 

American teams in Europe 
(1914-1915), 141 
western, 172 
Evarts, W. M., 40 
Evian, 167 

Fales, Almira, 29 
Family welfare program, 191 
Famines, 50, 51, 70, 142 
in Russia, 70-71 
Far East. 217, 292 
Farewell to Arms, 170 



Farmers, 206 

Farrand, Livingston, 178, 179, 180, 
184, 190, 191, 287 

Federal Civilian Defense Administra- 
tion, 272 

Feiser, James L., 188, 189, 191, 232 
Field representatives, 93, 158, 160, 
192, 223, 266 

in Spanish-Amcrican War, 90, 93 
First aid, 50, 131, 200, 224, 258, 274 
industrial training, 131-132 
Fish, Hamilton, 1 8, 40, 96 
Floods (1950s), 190 
Florida hurricane (1926), 197 
Foreign aid, 215-219, 256 
Foster, John W., Ill 
France, 17, 70, 130, 131, 140, 141, 

164, 165, 166, 168, 169, 179, 

American Red Cross in, 165-168 
Clara Barton on, 79 
southern, 222 
World War II, 222, 224 
Franco. Francisco, 217-218 
Franco-Prussian War, 37, 80, 81, 90 
Fraser, Leon, 232 

Frelinghuysen, Frederick T., 4", 67, 

French Army, 164, 165, 166 
French Red Cross, 165, 166 
Friends Service Committee, 218 
Funds, 104, 115, 125, 126-127, 132, 
135, 142, 143, 144, 149, 164, 

165, 182, 192, 193, 204, 206, 
211, 218, 219, 221, 224, 226, 
256, 257-258, 276, 278 

audits, 104, 118, 216 
contributions, 62, 90, 91, 92-93, 
117, 119, 126, 127-128, 133, 
135, 141, 144, 152, 165, 195, 
206, 207, 263, 264 
disbursements, 175, 176, 196, 210, 
218, 220, 235, 255-256, 259, 
. 260-261, 268, 269 

endowments, 126, 127, 204-205, 

joint campaigns, 233 
loans, 265 

public subscriptions, 69, 88, 94, 
106, 127, 140, 155, 195, 217, 
219, 221,. 222, 226-227, 256, 

reserves, 126, 197, 210, 230-231, 
268, 279 

Galveston tidal wave (1900), 106- 

Gardner, Dr. Joseph, 55, 56, 97, 99 
Gardner, Mrs., 97 
Garfield, James, 41, 42, 46, 47 
Geneva, Switzerland, 15, 30, 33, 37, 
50, 54, 64, 67, 72, 75, 76, 77, 
79, 132, 238, 239 
Geneva Conference of 1863, 16 
Geneva Conference of 1 864, 1 6 
Geneva Convention, 17, 21, 41, 47- 
48, 49. 50, 67. 70, 71, 76, 84, 
90, 91, 92, 94, 226 
additional members, 17 
prisoners of war, 237-238 
and U.S.A., 17-18, 47-48 
U.S. ratification, 47, 79 
(see also Red Cross) 

Geneva Treaty (see Geneva Conven- 

Georgia, 234, 281 
German Army, 240 
German Red Cross, 50 
Germany, 73, 131, 140, 141, 143, 
172, 219, 220, 221, 237, 238, 
239, 240, 277 
Clara Barton on, 79 
emigrants in U.S., 80 
Gettysburg, battle of, 17 
Gibson, Harvey D., 167-168, 189- 
190, 232 

Gifford, Walter S., 232 
Girl Guides (British), 52 
Girl Scouts, 132 

Glen Echo, 69, 83. 110, 112, 119 

Golay, Eliza, 33 

Golay family, 37 

Golay, Isaac, 33 

Golay, Jules, 30, 31, 33, 36 

“Good Samaritan Union, The,” 55-56 

Grand Army of the Republic, 78 



Grand Haven, Michigan, Red Cross 
chapter, 151 

Grant, Ulysses S., 18, 35, 77 
Graphic (N.Y.), 76 
Gray Ladies, 93, 257, 289, 290 
Grayson, Cary T., 213, 215, 287 
Great Britain, 17, 70, 238 {see also 

Greece, 17, 36 
Greeley, Horace, 39, 40, 47 
Greenville Red Cross chapter, 1 96 
Gruenther, Alfred M., 254, 268, 274, 
281, 287 

Hall, Lucy M., 80, 81, 82 (see also 
R. G. Brown) 

Harding, Warren G., 287 
Harriman, Averell, 233 
Harriman, E. Roland, 232, 252, 253, 
255, 260, 268, 280, 281, 287, 

Harris, Ira, 72 
Harris, Joel Chandler, 70 
Harrison, Benjamin, 40. 55 
Harrison, George L., 232 
Haskell, Lydie F., 29 
Health aides (see Volunteer Nurses 
Aide Service) 

Health centers, 181 
Health Service. 158 
Hearst newspapers, 183, 219 
Hemingway. Ernest, 170, 171 
Hickey, Margaret, 282 
Hill, George W., 144 
Hinton, Richard J., 47, 79 
Hiroshima, 248 
Hitchcock, Alfred, 28 
Hitler, Adolf, 218, 219 
Holland, 17, 221, 222, 277 
Home Hygiene Service. 212 
Home Service, 155, 158. 159, 181, 
198, 223, 233, 243, 265, 291, 

Hoover, Herbert Clark, 205, 206. 210, 
211, 215, 216, 220, 287 
Hopkins, Harry, 209 
Hopkins, Thomas S., 110 
Hospital and Recreation Corps, 290 
Hospitals, 95, 143, 169, 223, 292 

army base, 169 
Bellevue, 130 
blood service, 271 
in Britain, 164-165 
civilian, 290, 292 
1st Division, 97 
mental, 292 
military, 17, 266, 290 
Red Cross military, 1 69 
reserve divisional, 96 
types, 169 

Veterans’ Administration, 290, 291 
World War I, 168-169 
Hospital Service, 191, 198, 212, J23, 

Hospital ship, 95 
House. E. M., 144 
“housewife, The,” 266 
Houston, 106, 107 
How ard Association, 67 
Howe, Julia Ward, 33 
Hubbell, Julian, 54, 61, 62, 6d, 68, 
71, 72, 78, 79, 80. 82, 83, 88, 
89. 95. 97, 98, 112 
Hull House, 52 
Hungary, 176. 277 
revolt, 268, 275-276 
Hygiene, 180, 181 

Illinois, 183 

Red Cross State Association, 150 
Immigrants, 131 
India," 242. 254 

Indiana Red C oss State Association. 

Industry, 1 79, 200, z05. 224 
first aid, 131-132 

Iiit.mtile Paralysis Foundation, 248 
International Health Board, 1 79 
International League of Red Cross So- 
cieties, 176, 276 

International Red Cross Committee, 
16, 40, 50, 76, 87, 92, 218, 
2'’!, 238, 239, 240 
conferences, 57, 67, 75, 79, 82—83 
U.S. participation, 16-17 
Iowa, 71, 151 

Ireland, Merritte W., 164, 169 
Iron Curtain, 41, 265, 275 



Italian Army, 170 

Italy, 17, 164, 170-171, 242 

I wo Jima, 242, 244 

Jackson, James F., 128, 129 
Jacksonville, Fla., 93 
yellow fever, 67-68 
Japan, 216, 230, 237, 238, 240, 248, 
266, 277 

Red Cross in, 122 
Jay, Nelson Dean, 232 
Jennings, W. Croft, 282 
Jewish Welfare Board, 147 
Johnson, Andrew, 32 
Johnstone, E. R., 121 
Johnstown, Penn., 83 
Johnstown flood (1889), 57, 64, 68- 

Johnstown Flood Relief Commission, 

Jones, Jesse H., 144 
Josh V. Throop, 65, 66 
Junior Red Cross, 152, 232, 257, 258, 

Justice Department (U.S.), 111, 252 

Karlsruhe, 39, 79, 80 
Kasserine Pass, 242 
Kennan, George, 47, 96, 97 
Kentucky Red Cross State Association, 

Klopsch, Louis, 88 
Knights of Columbus, 147 
Korean War, 168, 234, 258 
casualties, 247 

Labor, 132, 179, 205 
Labor unions, 200, 232, 255 
Ladies Home Journal, 282 
LaGuardia, Fiorello H., 207 
Lamont, Thomas W., 225, 226 
Lanterns on the Levee, 196, 270 
Lawrence, William, 79 
Lebanon, 266 
Lee, Enola, 55 
Lee, Robert E., 30 
Lifesaver’s certifleates, 274 
Life-saving Corps, 132 
Life-saving Service, 199 

Lincoln, Abraham, 25, 26, 32, 35, 54 
Clara Barton and, 46, 56 
letter on missing persons, 31 
Lincoln, Robert T., 46, 56 
Literary Digest, 207 
Logan, Mrs. John, 286 
London, 39, 241 

Los Angeles Red Cross chapter, 193 
Louise, Grand Duchess of Baden {see 
under Baden) 

Louisville ( Kentucky ) Courier-Jour- 
n.d and Times, 282 
Loyalists (Spanish), 217, 218, 219 
Ludwig, Werner, 275 
Lynch, Charles, 131 

MacArthur, Douglas, 230 
McClelland, Robert, 25, 26 
McClintock, James K., 231 
McDowell, James A., 97 
McGee, Anita N., 94 
McKinley, William, 87, 88, 91, 94, 

on Clara Barton, 88 
Madison, Wisconsin, 32 
Red Cross chapter, 1 5 1 
Maine, 89 

Manifest destiny, 47 . 

Manila, 230 

Margot, Antoinette, 37, 39, 75, 76 
Marines (U.S.), 96, 236, 242 
Marshall, George C., 254, 255, 287, 

Martin, Harry, 281 
Mason, Charles, 24, 25 
Masons, 197 
Massachusetts, 28 
Maunoir, Theodore, 15 
“Mercy Ship,” 141, 142, 143, 220 
Messina (Italy) earthquake, 139 
Michigan, 61, 79 

Department of Health Laboratories, 

forest fires, 47, 54, 61-62, 63 
Middle East, 164, 222 
Milwaukee, 81 

Red Cross chapter, 151 
Minnesota Red Cross State Associa- 
tion, 150 



Missing Persons Bureau, 33 
Mississippi flood (1927), 196, 197, 

Mississippi river, 64 
Mississippi Red Cross Stale Associa- 
tion, 150 

Missouri, 281, 282 

Red Cross State Association, 150 
Mitigators, 189 
Moltke, Count von, 80 
Moreell, Ada, 29 
Morgan, J. P., 120, 127 
Morgan, J. P., and Company, 144, 
145, 146, 225 
Morton, Levi P., 96 
Motor Corps, 229, 257, 280 
Motor Service, 158, 200, 290 
Moynier, Gustave, 15, 40, 42, 47, 50, 
56, 72, 87 

Murphy, Grayson M. P., 165, 167 
Musscy, Ellen Spencer, 106 
Mussolini, Benito, 218 

National Association for the Study 
and Prevention of tubercu- 
losis, 179 

National First Aid Association of 
America, 112 

National Industrial Conference Board, 

National Red Cross Association, 21 
National Red Cross Society, 21 
National Tuberculosis Associatioi, 

Negroes, 68, 212 

blood issue, 236-237 
New Deal, 206, 208,213 
New England, 22, 23, 204, 217 
New England flood ( 1955), 260 
New Jersey, 150, 276 
New Orleans, 66, 76 

Red Cross chapter, 68, 151 
New York (city), 32, 81, 88, 89, 130, 
136, 151, 207, 234, 292 
Red Cross chapter, 131, 150, 193, 
236, 237 

New York (state), 150, 233 
New York American, 183 
New York Herald Tribune, 264 

New York Times, 207, 266 
New York World, 106 
Next-of-kin Service, 234 
Nicholson, James T., 254, 282 
Nightingale, Florence, 27 
North Oxford, Mass.. 22, 25, 39 
Nurses, 68, 90, 91-92, 129-131, 134, 
140, 143, 168, 200, 223, 235, 
246, 247 

armed forces, 94, 168 
conduct, 183 
federation of, 129 
Negroes, 68 

and Red Cross. 94-95, 129-131 
training, 95, 151 
volunteers, 273 

Nuises’ Aides, 168. 200, 224, 257, 

Nursing program, 19) 

Nursing Service, 181, 258 
Nutrition, 18^, 224, 258 

O’Connor, Basil, 248, 252, 253, 254, 
255, 287 

Ogden, Robert C., 104 
Ohio Flood Relief Commission. 133 
Ohio River flood (1884), 57, 64-67, 

Ohio River flood (1913), 133-134 
Ohio River flood (1937), 198, 212 
Olncy, Richard, 110. Ill 
O’Reilly, Robert M., 286 
Overland Monthly, 118 

Parent-Teacher Association, 195 
Paris. 38. 39, 82, 165, 166 
Payne, John Barton, 184, 187—189, 
191, 199, 203, 205, 206. 207, 
212-213, 287 

Pearl Harbor. 229, 230, 231, 234. 257 
Pennsylvania, 146, 150, 210 
Percy, William Alexander. 196, 270 
Perkins, James H., 167 
Pershing, “Black Jack,” 164. 165 
Persons report. 1 84, 1 89 
Persons. W. Frank, 183, 189, 191 
Petard, Felix C. M.. 37 
Petersburg, battle of, 30 
Petrograd, 171 



Philadelphia, 82, 94, 238, 239, 292 
Red Cross chapter, 150-151, 193 
Philippine Red Cross, 230 
Philippines, 91, 95, 230, 240, 266 
Phillips, Walter P., 47 
Phony war, 221 
Pierce, Franklin, 25 
Pittsburgh, 212 
Plasma, 234-236 
Poland, 175, 221 
Polytechnic Institute, 141 
Pope, John, 28 
Port of Embarkation, 155 
Port Huron, 62 
Portland. Maine, 33 
Portugal, 17, 239 
Potter, Henry C., 96, 104 
Press, 29-30, 47, 62, 63, 66-67, 96, 
140, 219 

Preventers, 189, 190 
Prisoners of war, 96, 234, 237-241, 

Prisoner-of-war packaging project, 292 
Proctor, Redficld, 89, 1 10, 1 1 1 
Prohibition, 183 
Prussia, 17 {see also Germany) 

Public health program, 180, 181, 191, 
198, 212, 258, 290 
Puerto Rico, 158 
Pullman Company, 56. 131 
Pullman, George, 46. 56, 72, 82 

Quakers {see Society of Friends) 

Rainbow Corner Club, 241 
Ramsey, Samuel, 24 
Rapatriees, 166, 167 
Reconcentrados, 87, 88 
Recreation, 223, 241-242 
Recreation Services, 93, 242 
Red Cross, 30, 35, 36, 39 
charter members, 17 
function, 50 

international conventions, 64, 75, 
79, 82-83, 150 
membership, 17, 36, 49 
organization, 41, 49 
origin, 13-18 

sister societies, 49, 50, 91, 140, 
275, 278 
symbol , 

brassard, 78 
flag, 62, 78. 239 
origin of, 1 6 

U.S. participation, 40-42, 49 
{see also Geneva Convention, In- 
ternational Red Cross Com- 
mittee and under Name of Na- 

RedCros", The, 139-141 
Red Cross Bulletin, 116 
Red Cross Convention {see Geneva 

Red Cross Courier, 187 
“Red Cross of the International Con- 
ventions of Geneva,” 46 
Red Cross Treaty {see Geneva Con- 

Refugees, 37, 166-167, 221, 222, 276. 

Rehabilitation. 47, 53, 62, 70, 118, 
133, 134, 135, 164, 172, 175, 
177, 196-197, 212, 260, 261, 
263, 269, 270 

Reid, Mrs. Whitelaw. 95. 96, 104, 143 
Relief work. 47, 56, 65, 68-69, 70- 
72, 88. 133, 134, 172, 176, 
197, 217, 222.269 
depression, 203-21 1 
governmental, 62-63, 64, 206, 210 
Renan, Joseph Ernest, 36 
Republican party, 206 
Review of Reviews, 21 
Richmond, 30 
Riga, 71 

Robins, Raymond, 171, 172 
Robinson, Joe T., 206 
Robinson, Leigh, 1 1 0 
Rochester, 62 

Red Cross chapter, 149 
Rockefeller Foundation, 179 
Rocky mountains, 82, 1 5 1 , 27 1 
Rome, 82 

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 209, 213, 
215, 216, 217, 220-221, 226, 
229, 230, 232, 248, 287 



Roosevelt, Theodore, 99, 108, 109, 
111, 116, 117, 216 
Ross, Ishbel, 23, 81 . 

Rotary Club, 194 
Rough Riders, 96, 97 
Rucker, D. H., 28 
Russell Sage Foundation, 121 
Russia, 17, 140, 141, 170, 218, 238, 

Bolshevik Revolution, 171 
famine of 1892, 64, 70-71 
relief to, 1 10, 182, 217 
Russo-Turkish War, 39 
Ryan, John D., 144 

Safety lectures, 132 

St. John’s Ambulance Society, 50 

St. Louis, 65, 134, 281, 292* 

St. Nicholas, 277 
Salvation Army, 147, 156 
British, 52 
Salzburg, 277 
Sampson, William T., 96 
San Antonio Red Cross chapter, 151 
San Francisco, 94, 116, 133, 281 
Committee of Fifty, 1 17 
disaster, 125 

earthquake (1906), 116-119, 120 
San Francisco Relief and Red Cross 
Funds, 117 

Sanitary Commission, 35 
Sanitation, 198 
San Juan, 97, 99 
Santiago, 88, 94, 96, 97, 100 
Santiago Bay, battle ot, 99 
Santo Tomas, 241 
Schieren, Charles A., 88 
Schrady, George F., 96 
Scribner's Magazine, 70 
Sea Island hurricane (1893), 64, 69- 

Selective Training and Service Act, 

Serbia, 131, 140, 141 
Service groups, 289 
Servicemen, 181, 290, 29 1 
Seward, Frederic W., 40 
Seward, William H., 17-18 
Shafter, William R., 96, 97, 100 

Sheffield, Joseph Earl, 105 
Sheldon, Abby, 37 

Sheldon, Joseph, 37, 55, 57, 64, 75, 
76, 79, 110, 112 
Sheridan, Phil, 41 
Sherman, John, 183 
Siberia, 164, 172, 175 
Siboncy, 96, 99, 1 00 
Sidney, 230 
Sinclair, John, 282 
Smith, Caleb B., 26 
Smith, DeWitt, 282 
Smith, William Aldcn, 1 10 
Social Service, 65, 117, 118, 122, 134, 
151, 176, 181, 183, 188, 189, 
190, 209, 279 

Social service agencies, 203, 205, 208 
216, 226 

Social Welfare Aid Service, 289, 291 
wSociety of Friends, 147. 176 
Society of Pilolic Benefit. 15-16 
Solferino, battle of, 14, 15, 170 
Solomons, Adolphus S., 75, 79 
Societies {see Chapters) 

South Korea, 277 

Southmayd, F. R., 68 

South Carolina, 69, 70, 193, 282 

vSouth Devon, 141 

Vn Souvenir de Solferino, 15, 36 

Soviet Union {see Russia) 

Spain, 17, 36. 89, 104, 215, 217 
Civil War, 217-219 
relief, 126, 218, 219, 222 
Span’'-h-American War. 63-64, 75, 
87-i00, 103, 104, 150, 158 
Clara Barton in. 90-100 
casualties, 246 
medical care, 96-99 
Spanish Fleet, 99 
Staff Aid Service, 289, 291 
Staff Assistance Corps, 291 
Stars and Stripes, 266 
State associations, 1 50 
State Defartment (U.S.) 14. 40, 92, 
95, 215, 216, 219, 252 
State of Texas, 91, 92, 95, 96, 97, 99, 

Stebbins, L. A., 110 
Sternberg, George M., 92. 94, 95 



Stewart, Joseph R., 282 
Stilwell Road, 242, 244 
Stone, Elvira, 26 
Stone, Lucy, 33 
Strasbourg, 37, 38, 81 
Sumner, Charles, 26 
Supplies, 63, 64, 71, 92, 93, 94, 208, 
220, 229, 230, 231, 233-234, 
238-241, 289 

Surplus Commodity Corporation, 218 
Suttles, Olivette, 281 
Sweden, 17, 239 
Switzerland, 17, 37, 239, 240 
Syracuse, N.Y., 62 

Red Cross chapter, 149 

Taft, William Howard, 111, 115, 125, 
127, 131, 132, 140, 143, 145, 
178, 189, 286 
Taiwan, 266 
Tarawa, 236 
Tecumseh, Chief, 22 
Tennessee Red Cross State Associa- 
tion, 150 
Tewfik Pasha, 72 
Texas, 67, 77, 106, 151 
droughts, 67, 77-78 
Texas Red Cross State Association, 


Thailand, 240 
Thames, battle of the, 22 
Thomas, M. Louise, 81 
Thorne, Landon K., 232 
Tillman, Benjamin P., 70 
Tokyo, 240 

Topeka, Kansas Red Cross chapter, 


“Toymobile,” 277 
Training camps, 158, 164, 224 
Transportation Service, 290 
Trask, Spencer, 104 
Treasury Department (U.S.), HI. 

Treaty of Geneva {see Geneva Con- 

Triangle Waist Company fire (1911), 

Troop trains, 156 

Troy, Penn., 146 
Truman, Harry S., 287 
Tuberculosis, 167, 180, 198 
Tuberculosis stamps, 1 26 
Tucson, Arizona Red Cross chapter, 

Turkey, 17, 36, 71, 72, 82. 172 

Unemployment relief programs, 209, 

United Nations Relief and Rchabilita- 
ti..-n Administration, 256 
United States, 13, 63, 75, 77, 87, 121, 
142, 146, 163, 175, 176, 191, 
195, 197, 209, 264, 276 
isolationism, 176, 218, 220 
neutrality, 221 
prisoners of war, 237, 238 
and Red Cross, 17-18, 45, 50-51, 

Russian Revolution, 171 
Spanish Civil War, 219 
water safety, 1 3 1 

World War I, 143-153, 164, 165, 

World War II, 220, 223, 225 
United States Army, 87, 91, 118, 143, 
165, 181, 223, 235, 242;“289 
Medical Corps. 91. 92, 94, 168- 
169, 236 

Medical Department, 17 
Nurse Corps, 94, 130 

and Red Cross, 92-95, 103, 153- 
154, 157, 216, 223, 244-246, 
257, 263-267 
Sanitary Commission, 17 
Special Services, 241 
United States Congress, 33, 41, 42, 
47, 55, 117, 125, 183, 207 
appropriations, 206-207, 221-222 
House of Representatives, 183, 207 
on nurses, 95 
Red Cross 

charter, 57-58, 79, 103, 111, 
226, 253 

investigation of, 109 
treaty, 47 

Senate, 79, 89, 206, 286 



United States Navy, 87, 89, 91, 95, 
111, 181, 223, 235, 242, 252, 

Nurse Corps, 258 

United States Patent Office, 22, 24, 25 
United States Presidency, 111, 125, 
216, 230, 252, 253, 254 
United Slates Public Health Service, 

United Slates Shipping Board, 1 87 
University of Colorado, 179 
University of Georgia Hospital, 234 
University of Michigan, 54 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 104 
Van Reypen, William K., 111-112, 

Vassar Miscellany, 81 
Venereal disease, 1 80 
Verein Deiitscher Wafjen^cnossen, 81 
Veterans, 110, 181, 199, 224, 248, 
257, 290, 291 
disabled, 181, 191, 198 
Veterans Administration, 199, 257 
Vienna, 64, 82, 83, 84 
Virginia, 28, 29, 98, 281 
Volunteers, 134, 142, 143, 149, 152, 
155, 158, 180, 181, 189, 195, 
"196, 198, 200-201, 208, 232, 
257, 260, 264, 266, 267, 270, 
278, 279, 288 
blood program, 235-236 
Christmas seals, 1 26 
drivers, ambulance, 170-171 
hours, 288-292 
instructors, 200 
nurses, 17, 129 
in World War II, 229 
Volunteer Nurse’s Aide Service, 289, 

Volunteer Service, 200-201 

Wadsworth, Eliot, 143, 144, 151, 177, 
232, 286, 287 
Wales, Prince of, 1 05 
War brides, 257 
War Camp Service, 147 
War Department (U.S.), 18, 27, 31, 
95, 111, 125, 147, 159 

War Fund Campaign Committee, 225 
War Relief Board, 129, 131 
Wardwell, William T., 96 
Wars, 55, 70, 90, 132, 176 
wounded, treatment of, 14, 17, 92, 
96-97, 168-169, 236 
(see also under Name) 

Washburne, Elihu B., 38 
Washington, D.C., 24, 25, 26, 35, 40, 
45, 69, 71, 77, 78, -1, 106, 
107, 131, 133, 140, 143, 146, 
207, 210, 221, 229 
Waterford, Penn., 66 
Water safety, 131. 132, 199, 212, 258 

Water Safety Corps, 1 32 
Wayne. “Mad Anthony,’’ 22 
Wells Fargo Express Company, 106 
Western Front, 171, i72 
West Virginia cloudburst, 1 29 
White House, 107, 108, 116, 213, 
216, 218, 229 
White Russians, 172 
Wiesbaden, 266 
“Mr. Will,” 196 
Willard, Frances, 33, 72 
William I., 38. 80 
Williams, John Skelton, 182 
Wilson, Henry. 26, 28, 31, 35, 39, 40 
Wilson, John E., 282 
Wilson, Lloyd B., 232 
Wilson, Woodrow, 144, 145, 178, 182, 
213, 216, 286, 287 
Windsor, Duke of. 105 
Winfrey, Fred, 282 
Wisconsin, 71, 81, 151 
Women, 17, 25, 27, 93-94, 153 ff., 
180, 223, 229, 290 
Women’s Bureau, 289 
Women’s Voluntary Services, 222 
Wood, Marshall William, 98 
Works Progress Administration, 209 
World War I, 105, 130, 140, 146, 
180, 182, 196. 197, 198, 207, 
220, 230, 234, 236, 287 . 

blockade, 141 
casualties, 246-247 
chapters’ activities. 157-158 
civilian rehef, 166—167 



World War I (cont.) 

European front, 163-173 
home front, 151-160 
nurses, 130 

Red Cross effort, 153-154 
social agencies, 170 
volunteers, 147, 153, 288-289 
women, role of, 290 
World War II, 154, 164, 168, 180, 
215, 220-248, 259 
blood, 234-237 
casualties, 247 
chapters’ activities, 224 
prisoners of war, 237-241, 292 
recreation, 241-242 

Red Cross plans, 225-227 
Red Cross services, 229-230, 233- 

volunteers, 28^-289 
women, role of, 290 
Wounded, care of, 14, 17, 92, 96-97, 
168-169, 236 
Wiirttemberg, 17 

Yale University, Sheffield School, 105 
Y girls, 156, 182 

Y.M.C.A, 52, 132, 147, 170, 182, 
195, 199, 223 

Y.W.C.A., 52, 132, 147, 199 
Yugoslavia, 141 


Charles Hurd, author , journalist and public relations consultant, was born 
on May 11. 1903, in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. He received his bovhood edu- 
cation from tutors and was an extension student at Northwestern Univer- 
sity. Evanston, 111., from 1918 to 1923. He began his writing career during 
his college years as a full-time reporter for The Associated Press in Chrcago 
and then in New York City. He became an associate editor of Liberty 
magazine in 1926 and left three years later to join the staff of The New 
York Times in their Washington bureau. Until 1949 he t cmained there, 
having served as White House correspondent at various times and having 
been a London correspondent specializing in international politics during 
1937 and 1938. He has since been actively engaged in the public relations 
field doing industrial promotion work through his own firm, Charles Hurd 
Associates. He was also a news commentator and has contributed to many 
magazines including Life, Reader’s Digest, and American Magazine, wrote 
a regular feature on personalities for Redbook, and has had material pub- 
lished in anthologies. His books are The White House (Harper, 1940)', 
The Veterans Program (Whittlesey House, 1946)', and Washington Caval- 
cade (Dutton, 1948). He was married to the former Eleanor Branson of 
Washington, D.C., in 1934, and they make their home in New York City. 

The Compact History of the American Red Cross (Hawthorn, 1959) 
was designed by Sidney Feinberg, completely manufactured by American 
Book-Stratford Press, Inc., and illustrated by Gil Walker. The body type 
was set on the Linotype in Times Roman, originally designed for use by 
The Times of London.